NEW DELHI: For the second consecutive day, two senior ministers today briefed political parties about the standoff along the Sino-Indian border and situation in Jammu and Kashmir at a meeting where opposition leaders urged the government to deescalate the tension with China.
Leaders of 11 political parties, including JD-S leader and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, and CPI's D Raja, were briefed by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and Home Secretary-designate Rajiv Gauba, on the two issues.
Opposition leaders were told about the prevailing situation along the Sino-Indian border and Jammu and Kashmir and the government's action, an official spokesperson said.
Yesterday, Swaraj, Jaitely and Home Minister Rajnath Singh had briefed leaders of 14 opposition parties. "Those who were absent in yesterday's meeting were invited for today's meeting," an official spokesperson said.
Representatives of JD-S, CPI, RSP, JMM, Sikkim Democratic Front, partner of ruling NDA Akali Dal, besides others, were present in the meeting. Congress, TMC, CPI-M, JD-U, DMK, BSP, NCP and others had attended yesterday's meeting.
CPI national secretary Raja said the government told them there are differences on Doklam area in the tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan. "The government said there is no tension and it is negotiating.
I also said the standoff should be brought to an end as early as possible through the already existing mechanism," he told PTI.
Raja said India-China bilateral trade has gone up and New Delhi is part of the SCO and BRICS, adding "For China also the standoff is a continuing concern and they will also understand this". "The government gave details about the attack on Amarnath pilgrims.
We did not discuss the Kashmir issue as a whole, but only the Amarnath attack issue," he said.
Gauba briefed the leaders of the 11 parties on the Amarnath pilgrimage this year and said till yesterday l.86 lakh pilgrims had paid obeisance at the cave shrine.
Last year, 2.21 lakh pilgrims had visited the shrine during the entire yatra period.
On the security side, Gauba said more than 200 additional companies of Central Armed Police Forces and three additional army battalions were provided for the pilgrimage this year.
The security arrangements have been reviewed regularly at the Centre and the state level, he said. New Delhi has expressed concern over Beijing trying to change the status quo at the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction in the Doklam area.
China and India have been engaged in a standoff in the Doklam area for the past three weeks after a Chinese military construction party attempted to build a road.
Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognizes as Doklam, while China claims it as part of its Donglang region.
In Jammu and Kashmir, seven pilgrims were killed by militants in Anantnag district while returning from the Amarnath cave shrine on Monday.
Four districts of the state -- Pulwama, Kulgam, Shopian and Anantnag -- have been on the boil since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces in July, 2016.
The unrest has resumed since the April 9 bypoll to the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat. Opposition leaders have been criticising the government for the way it has handled China and Kashmir.