Actor-politician Kamal Haasan has cautioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi against trying to "emotionally manipulate people" over the violent face-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Ladakh's Galwan Valley last week, in which 20 Indian troops died for their country and dozens more were injured.
In his strongly-worded statement Kamal Haasan hit out at the government for saying that those questioning the Prime Minister's comments at Friday's all-party meeting - during which PM Modi was quoted as saying: "Neither is anyone inside our territory nor is any of our post captured" - were trying to "give a mischievous interpretation" to the Prime Minister's remarks.
"The mischief lies in continuing to emotionally manipulate people with such statements. I sincerely request the Prime Minister and his supporters to stop doing that," the Makkal Needhi Maiam chief wrote.
"Questions cannot be treated as anti-national. Right to ask questions is the base of democracy and we will continue asking till we hear the truth," he said, pointing out that the Prime Minister's statement during the all-party meet "contradicted statements of the Army and Ministry of External Affairs".
After Friday's meeting the opposition had criticised the government, saying it had not fully explained the situation along the LAC (Line of Actual Control) that led to the brutal attack on Indian soldiers.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi led the charge, saying the Prime Minister had "surrendered Indian territory to Chinese aggression", prompting the government to clarify that the violence "arose because China was seeking to erect structures just across the LAC and refused to desist from such actions".
PM has surrendered Indian territory to Chinese aggression.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) June 20, 2020
If the land was Chinese:
1. Why were our soldiers killed?
2. Where were they killed? pic.twitter.com/vZFVqtu3fD
The government also referred to "brave soldiers defending our borders", "a time of national crisis" and "motivated propaganda" in its response.
In his statement Kamal Haasan acknowledged that some information might be classified but added that the government had a duty to keep the country better informed, particularly at sensitive times.
"We know certain information will be classified but you can manage communication better than by just saying, 'don't doubt the army' and 'don't be an anti-national'. We are beyond all that now. Let us have some transparency and accountability for a change," he added.
The actor-turned-politician also pointed out that the last week's violence meant that diplomatic success claimed by the government after Prime Minister Modi and China's Xi Jinping meeting in October last year rang hollow.
"Eight months later, the Chinese stab us in the back by killing our unarmed soldiers. If that is the result of the government's diplomacy, then either their strategy has failed miserably or they failed to read the intentions of the Chinese correctly," Kamal Haasan said.
"In both cases, it is the government who needs to answer a few more questions," he added.
Also demanding to know how Indian soldiers' lives were being guarded, Kamal Haasan said the nation's armed forces were among the best in the world but their lives could not be taken for granted.
"We need to know what is being done to control China's belligerence. It is not the Army's job to do that. The army is the last resort when diplomacy fails. What should have been achieved through peace talks and goodwill is being expected by our soldiers by sacrificing their lives!" he wrote.