Foreign minister says no change in China policy, BJP walks out

March 17th, 2008 - 4:13 pm ICT by admin  

(Lead)

New Delhi, March 17 (IANS) There has been no change in India’s policy towards China since 1959, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Monday as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led opposition walked out of the Lok Sabha protesting against New Delhi’s “hesitation to condemn the violence in Lhasa”. The crackdown by Chinese authorities against protestors in Tibetan capital Lhasa echoed in both houses of parliament with the opposition as well as Samajwadi Party urging the government to put pressure for UN intervention in the matter.

However, Mukherjee said India had already expressed its concern over the developments in Lhasa. Quoting a statement issued by his ministry, he said: “We are distressed by reports of the unsettled situation and violence in Lhasa, and by the deaths of innocent people.

“We would hope that all those involved will work to improve the situation and remove the causes of such trouble in Tibet, which is an autonomous region of China, through dialogue and non-violent means.”

Violence erupted in Lhasa Friday when protesters led by Buddhist monks clashed with Chinese troops and burnt vehicles and shops in the biggest and angriest demonstrations in two decades against Chinese rule.

According to the official toll, 10 people have died in the violence, but unofficial reports put the figure at over 100.

The opposition was not satisfied by the intervention made by Mukherjee and walked out of the lower house.

“India has been following the same policy towards China since 1959. Successive governments have not changed it. The (BJP-led) NDA (National Democratic Alliance) was in power during 1998-2004. (Former prime minister Atal Bihari) Vajpayee was foreign minister in 1977,” Mukherjee said as the BJP MPs walked out.

Raising the issue, BJP deputy leader V.K. Malhotra alleged that there was “cultural annihilation” by Beijing in Tibet. “More than 100 people were killed. There were protests all over. But India is silent,” he alleged.

Samajwadi Party’s Ramjilal Suman also asked the government to condemn the violence in “strongest words”.

Yogi Adityanath of the BJP, who also spoke on the issue, tried to provoke the communist MPs by saying that “some people who do politics in India in the name of China also should come out against it.” However, the Left MPs did not react.

“India should stand against this kind of ethnic cleansing,” Adityanath demanded.

The matter was raised in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house, where the opposition alleged that the government’s response against violence had been “weak-kneed.”

“The government response has been weak-kneed,” former external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha declared while raising the issue during zero hour in the Rajya Sabha.

“We are all for good relations with China but I would humbly suggest that good relations do not mean that we surrender (our rights to make our views known),” he maintained.

“We have civilizational links with Tibet,” he pointed out, demanding a government statement “on what its thinking (on the issue) is”.

The government should also work through diplomatic channels and the UN to bring about a resolution of the issue, Sinha contended.

He also condemned the “blood repression” and the “cultural genocide on a large scale” by the Chinese government against protestors in Lhasa.

“Human rights are being violated with impunity. We do not know how many people have lost their lives but it is believed to be in the hundreds.

“There are door-to-door searches for the protestors and not for those who have indulged in violence. What is most shocking is that the authorities have declared a people’s war against the people of Tibet,” Sinha maintained.

“How can a government conduct a people’s war against its own people,” he wondered.

Sinha also condemned the “barbarity” with which the police in the national capital have put down protests by Tibetans here.

“The Dalai Lama is our honoured guest. All Tibetans in India are our guests. Is this how we treat our guests?” Sinha asked.

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