Lok Sabha Questions on China Border Situation Being Disallowed on 'Specious Grounds'

Congress MP Manish Tewari has said that 17 questions relating to China and the border situation were disallowed.

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New Delhi: Advocate and Congress MP from Anandpur Sahib Manish Tewari on Monday (December 20) tagged Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla and Rajya Sabha chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu in a tweet in which he said that 17 questions on the India-China border situation have been disallowed by the Lok Sabha Secretariat on the “specious grounds of national security” since September 2020. Only a few months prior to this, Chinese and Indian troops had clashed violently in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley and 20 Indian soldiers were killed.

Following the June 15, 2020 clash, which was the worst between the two armies in 45 years, both the sides had deployed a large number of troops and equipment on the border. India had also contended that China had moved into the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control. Thereafter, several rounds of military talks were held for the disengagement process.

After months of silence on the issue of casualties on its side, in February 2021, China finally acknowledged that five of its military officers and soldiers were killed in the eastern Ladakh clash. Around the same time, China’s defence ministry also announced that the troops of both the countries on the southern and northern shores of Pangong Tso began “synchronised and organised disengagement”.

Subsequently, defence minister Rajnath Singh had also issued a statement that said that “there are still some outstanding issues that remain regarding deployment and patrolling on LAC”. He had added that “our attention will be on these in further discussions”.

Also read: Book Review: Unravelling the Enigmatic Chinese Military and its Idea of ‘Active Defence’

While the ministries and ministers on both sides have been occasionally coming out with statements on the situation on the Sino-Indian border, Tewari pointed out in his tweet that attempts by MPs to seek a direct response from the minister on the issue have been stalled by the Lok Sabha secretariat. Stating that there has been “Not one substantive discussion on China since April 2020”, he asked, “Are we a Democracy any longer?”

Most of the questions disallowed were asked of Ministry of Defence

Tewari also shared in his tweet details of 17 questions which were asked by MPs but were disallowed. While the first of these was listed for answering on September 16, 2020, the last was scheduled for December 3, 2021.

One each of these questions were posed to the prime minister and the Ministry of External Affairs, but the most – at 10 – were posed to the Ministry of Defence, followed by five to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

These questions covered a range of issues related to China and the situation at the border. While some were related to the occupation of Indian territory and Chinese intrusions and transgressions, others were on the Indian soldiers martyred in the clashes, the disengagement process, the cost of military deployment along the LAC and China’s nuclear arsenal.

However, all these questions, which sought answers from the government on issues which concern the people directly, were disallowed.

18 other questions on China answered in Lok Sabha since September 2020

Meanwhile, a look at all the questions on “China” raised in Lok Sabha since September 2020 reveals that the government has answered a total of 18 questions on it since and these have ranged from issues such as shifting production from China to India, import from China, and even construction along the Indo-China border.

Some questions asked by Tewari, including those on “dams by China” and “virtual meeting with China”, were also answered.

Also read: No ‘Credible Explanation’ by Beijing for Action in Violation of Agreements, Says Jaishankar

The Ministry of External Affairs had answered a question on “discussion on India China Border” on September 16, 2020 in which it had stated:

“From April-May this year, there has been an enhanced deployment of troops and armaments by the Chinese side in the border areas and along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Western Sector. Since mid-May the Chinese side attempted to transgress the LAC in several areas of the Western Sector of the India-China border area. These attempts were invariably met with an appropriate response from us.”

The statement had further added: “To address the issues arising from such attempts, the two sides engaged in discussions through the established military and diplomatic channels.”

Referring to the Galwan Valley clash, it had stated that:

“A meeting of the Senior Commanders took place on 6 June 2020 and the two sides had agreed on a process for disengagement. Subsequently, ground commanders had a series of meetings to implement the consensus reached at a higher level. However, the Chinese side departed from this consensus to respect the LAC and tried to unilaterally change the status quo, as a result of which a violent face-off happened in the late evening and night of 15 June 2020. Both sides suffered casualties that could have been avoided had the agreement at the Senior Commanders level been scrupulously followed by the Chinese side.”

Making a mention of the deliberations that followed, it had stated:

“As the situation eases, the two sides should expedite work to conclude new Confidence Building Measures to maintain and enhance peace and tranquillity in the border areas. Accordingly, it is expected that the two sides will continue to have meetings of military and diplomatic officials to implement the agreements reached between the two Foreign Ministers and ensure full restoration of peace and tranquility in the border areas.”