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MPs quiz MEA officials on LAC crisis

To the border: An Army convoy moving towards the LAC in Ladakh on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

At a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs on Tuesday, questions from members on the situation on the Line of Actual Control were shot down, according to the sources, citing “national security”.

Also read: After fresh tensions in Ladakh, China says it hopes for disengagement as soon as possible

The meeting was called on the agenda of “India’s Neighbourhood First Policy’. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla along with other senior officials from the External Affairs Ministry deposed in front of the committee.

The questions raised by some of the opposition members included reports on the PLA’s claim that Indian troops crossed the LAC and fired shots to deter them patrolling the Pangong Tso area. The lawmakers also wanted to know how much of the area, which as per the Indian perception of the LAC, is in the Chinese control.

Also read: LAC standoff | Rajnath categorically conveys India’s position to Chinese counterpart

The MEA in a statement this morning on the reports of gunshots has already stated that at no stage “has the Indian Army transgressed across the LAC or resorted to use of any aggressive means, including firing”. The Ministry further said it was the PLA troops who were attempting to close-in with one of India’s forward positions along the LAC and when dissuaded by their own troops, PLA troops fired a few rounds in the air in an attempt to intimidate their own troops.

However, sources said Committee chairperson and BJP leader P.P. Chaudhary pointed out that for one, this subject is not part of the agenda and therefore, it is unfair to the external affairs officials to expect them to answer the questions. Second, he also pointed out that since the situation is still unfolding and it is an issue of national security, it is best that the committee does not wade into it at present.

Also read: India-China LAC standoff | Brief nation about talks with China, Congress tells govt.

Mr. Chaudhary did not respond to The Hindu’s efforts to speak to him. Mr. Shringla and others also did not respond to questions.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Monday had said the situation at eastern Ladakh, where Indian and Chinese troops have been in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation since April, was “very serious” and called for “deep conversations between the two sides at the political level”.

Members of the Committee expressed concerns that India’s relations with Sri Lanka, Maldives and Nepal have soured while China has managed to strengthen its position among these countries.

Tuesday’s meeting of the committee was the last meeting before its dissolution September 11.

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Printable version | May 14, 2021 2:00:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/mps-quiz-mea-officials-on-lac-crisis/article32554665.ece

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