Questions on 'Losing' Ladakh Patrol Points Excluded from Lok Sabha Final List: Report

The list of questions submitted to the home ministry were "pruned" from 35 to 24, according to an official in the know of things.

New Delhi: The Union government has excluded questions on “losing” patrolling points in Ladakh from the final list of questions to be answered by the Union home ministry in Lok Sabha on March 21, Economic Times reported.

Quoting an official in the know of things, the newspaper said the list of questions submitted to the home ministry were “pruned” from 35 to 24. A home ministry spokesperson, whom the ET contacted, also did not comment on why questions on the said issue were dropped.

Depending on the subject matter, MPs file their questions with related ministries. Within 15 days after the filing of questions, the ministry is expected to answer them. While some of the questions – labelled as ‘starred’ – are answered in the parliament during the Question Hour, others questions are answered in writing, and copies of the same are distributed to MPs and the media.

The latest development comes in continuation of the government stonewalling repeated attempts by several MPs for some time now to obtain information on the Indo-China border dispute by disallowing questions pertaining to the matter. The opposition has been demanding answers from the government on India’s “losing” its access to 26 of the 65 patrolling points in Eastern Ladakh.

The loss of access to specific locations in Ladakh came to light when a research paper, authored by the superintendent of Leh-Ladakh, was presented at the annual conference of director generals of police in the last week of January in Delhi. The paper revealed that restrictive or no patrolling by Indian Security Forces (ISFs) resulted in India “losing” access to 26 out of 65 patrolling points (PP) in eastern Ladakh.

After the report led to criticism of the Union government, all papers presented at the conference were taken off the website.

Subsequently, some MPs had also filed questions pertaining to the issue with the ministry of home affairs to learn more about the reported occurrence and why it was being kept under wraps.

However, attempts to obtain information on the issue, which is crucial for national security, have been blocked by the government.

The ET report also quoted Congress MP Manish Tewari – who has since the Chinese intrusions in 2020 filed at least 57 questions on the issue in the parliament – as saying that he had sought replies on the papers submitted at the DGPs’ conference.

Reacting to the latest development, Tewari tweeted that this would have been his 57th question or more from him on the China issue to be disallowed.

Tewari had earlier said that responses to RTI queries filed to know how many questions raised by MPs with regard to the Indo-China border issue were denied by the parliament secretariat. However, these were not answered citing parliamentary privilege.

The research paper in question

The said research paper was one of the 15 submitted by police officers on the subject of ‘Security issues pertaining to unfenced land border’. However, the paper did not come up for discussion at the meeting, which was also attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah.

The paper highlighted how India’s “play safe” approach, which prevented the movement of district administration and locals in forward areas, led to these turning into informal “buffer” zones. It added that the lack of patrolling at these points had provided an opportunity for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to occupy them.

“Presently, there are 65 PPs starting from the Karakoram pass to Chumur which are to be patrolled regularly by the ISFs (Indian Security Forces). Out of 65 PPs, our presence is lost in 26 PPs (i.e. PP no. 5-17, 24-32, 37, 51,52,62) due to restrictive or no patrolling by the ISFs. Later on, China, forces us to accept the fact that, as, such areas have not seen the presence of ISFs or civilians since long, the Chinese were present in these areas,” the paper said.