New Delhi: The killing of five Indian soldiers on the Line of Control saw anger and anguish in Parliament today with BJP and Samajwadi Party questioning as to why the government was feeling “completely helpless” in the face of repeated aggression by Pakistan.
The issue saw parties coming together to assert that the country should respond strongly to such provocative acts, not only by Pakistan but also China whose troops have made repeated incursions in India in the recent months.
In the Lok Sabha, there were fervent demands for a statement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the serious issue. Speaker Meira Kumar said a structured debate could be held on the issue if notice was given.
Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha witnessed uproar over the issue as also protests against formation of Telangana and demands for creation of Bodoland, leading to repeated adjournments.
The issue was raised by Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav who insisted that neither Pakistan nor China can be trusted, saying both of them were aggressive towards India.
“Our five soldiers have been killed on the LoC. Our army is not weak,” he said, questioning what had been done in response to the provocative action by Pakistan troops in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir.
“This is a matter of national unity, national security and self-confidence. Tell us why we are not able to stop these attacks,” said Yadav, a former Defence Minister.
Attacking the government, he said after the previous incident of such nature in January, it had hosted the Prime Minister of Pakistan for lunch.
“China and Pakistan are preparing to attack India… We face threat from both China and Pakistan…We need to be alert,” he said.
Joining Yadav, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha focussed on Pakistan while targeting the government over the “disturbing” incident on the LoC.
“The most tragic thing is that our armed forces seem to have been made helpless” in the face of “repeated aggression” by Pakistan, he said, amid cries of “shame, shame” by opposition benches.
The former External Affairs Minister, while speaking amidst uproar created by Andhra MPs to protest creation of Telangana, provoked Congress by questioning whether it was not agitated enough on this killing of soldiers.
Peeved at the uproar created by MPs from Andhra, he accused Congress of prompting them as soon as he started speaking. There was no protest when Yadav spoke, he noted.
Sinha recalled that Pakistani troops had carried out a similar attack on the LoC in January also, killing two Indian soldiers and beheading one of them.
“There was Mumbai attack. There was beheading of soldier …After that there have been regular incidents of Pakistani aggression,” he said, adding Pakistani troops were violating the ceasefire on the LoC to aid infiltration by terrorists.
Targeting the government over these developments, the BJP leader questioned why Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was absent in the House when such a crucial issue was being raised.
He demanded that the government should make a statement.
National Conference leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah said the country needs to unitedly respond to such attacks by Pakistan.
Asking government not to trust China, Yadav said the country had betrayed Jawaharlal Nehru in 1962 even after saying “Hindi Chini, bhai bhai”. “Nehru died of that shock,” the SP leader said.
He contended that China is preparing to attack India again and has prepared maps for this purpose.
Yadav targeted BJP along with Congress, saying Tibet, which used to be India’s sentinel, was given away to China during the NDA rule.
Talking in the context of Pakistan, the SP leader said Kashmiris were capable and strong enough to counter Pakistani aggression but the Government of India had not done much to empower them.
In the Rajya Sabha, BJP members demanded a statement from the government on the LoC attack.
BJP members were up on their feet right from the beginning, demanding a statement from the government on the issue and even raised slogans of ‘Pakistan murdabad’.
Responding to BJP’s demand, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rajeev Shukla said the Defence Minister will make a statement on the issue at 3:30 PM, but unrelenting opposition members said as the issue was serious the Minister should immediately come to the House and make a statement.
While Venkaiah Naidu (BJP) said, “The entire country is agitated,” his colleague Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “We are very much interested in knowing as to who is responding in the government. It is a very serious matter.”
When told by Shukla that the Defence Minister will respond at 3:30 PM, Naidu sought to know why the Minister should take this much time.
“The entire House is agitated. The Minister should come and give a statement immediately. They are delaying on an important issue,” he said, adding, “If you don’t take it up on priority and discuss the issue, what kind of message are you giving…Why they are delaying? The incident happened in the morning. Pakistan is doing it again and again,” Naidu said.
Kurien then said the government cannot come out with a “cooked-up statement”. “They cannot make a statement on newspaper reports. They have to come out with facts. That is not a reasonable demand. Wait up to 3:30 pm. What is wrong?” he said.
Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley then suggested that the House should start the discussion immediately and the Defence Minister can respond later.
“Today, going by what the feeling of the House is, it would be appropriate that we can start a discussion on the issue and when the Minister is ready he can give a reply,” Jaitley said.
This was strongly opposed by Shivanand Tiwari (JD-U), after changed political equations between the BJP and his party, saying “this will be an entirely wrong process.”
He said the discussion would take place on facts given by the government as so far whatever has come in public domain is based on media reports. Tewari continued to protest even as Shukla expressed government’s readiness to accept Jaitley’s proposal.
Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) supported Tiwari saying in that case there will be two discussions and the Minister should be ready for them.
“It is appropriate that government gives a statement first and then we discuss. There will be two discussions then,” he said, wondering as to what members will discuss unless the government gives facts.
While maintaining that he was not lowering importance of the “very important” subject for discussion, Yechury said it was natural that members will discuss it again after the minister’s statement.
Satyavrat Chaturvedi (Cong) and Ram Vilas Paswan (LJP) also favoured a discussion after the minister’s statement saying the debate on Uttarakhand floods should be completed first.
As Shukla expressed his readiness to accept Jaitley’s demand, a visibly agitated Chaturvedi asked, “If the speaker from the main opposition party has spoken, will others not be allowed to speak? What will happen to Uttarakhand debate?”
Kurien, who was in the Chair, sought to know the
government’s stand on the attack on Indian troops.
But, in the absence of a consensus, the Chair proceeded with other Zero Hour issues.
After being asked to speak during Zero Hour, Avinash Rai Khanna (BJP) did not speak and asked the Chair to bring the House in order, Biswajit Daimary (Bodo People’s Front) raised the issue of separate state of Bodoland out of Assam and said their demand should be met.