Prime Minister Modi is meeting top government officials from China after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in hand-to-hand combat in a Himalayan border region. Both parties have accused each other of engaging in the conflict this week in the Galwan Valley. This valley is part of the disputed Indian-administered Ladakh region.
It is believed that this conflict is also one of the deadliest between the two sides in 45 years.
Although India has reported the 20 fatalities, China is still yet to report on whether or not it has suffered any casualties.
The Defence Minister in India, Rajnath Singh spoke to leaders of various political parties on Thursday, in order to try and reach a consensus on the situation.
Modi on Friday hosted the leaders of more than a dozen opposition parties in a virtual meeting.
Not all political parties were invited, for example:
Delhi’s governing Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM)
Bihar state-based Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)
All of whom expressed their anger over being left out of the all-party meeting.
The main opposition Congress party said the country deserves to know the truth. “It deserves a leadership that is willing to do anything before allowing its land to be taken,” it said in a statement.
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On Thursday, India’s foreign ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar will take part in a trilateral virtual meeting with Russia and China next week.
But the deadly Himalayan clash has also fanned growing anti-Chinese sentiments in India.
They were already high due to pressures from the Coronavirus pandemic, which began in China.
India’s caseload has now escalated to the fourth highest in the world.
One of the casualties in Monday’s conflict was, Colonel B Santosh Babu.
Emotions were running high in the southern city of Hyderabad, where thousands watched his funeral procession.
An Indian business confederation called for a boycott of 500 Chinese goods, including toys and textiles, to express “strong criticism” of China’s action in Ladakh.
Taylor Fravel, director of the Security Studies programme at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said China was trying to put pressure on India.
However, he reiterated that he did not believe Beijing wanted conflict between the two countries.
Fravel also talked about that from a strategical perspective, China should seek to drive a wedge between India and the United States in order to prevent a counterbalance.
“The deaths and the clash on Monday night will probably very quickly and much more rapidly push India closer to the United States, which I think is probably not what China wants,” he said.
G Parthasarathy, a retired Indian diplomat, said both China and Pakistan – another hostile neighbour of India’s – were aiming at low-cost containment of India.
China has a hangup against India and its civilisation. For us to expect China will be a friendly neighbour … it will never be a friendly relationship.”