- PM Modi sent a strong message to China over the Ladakh clash
- India is peace-loving, but can give fitting reply if provoked, said PM
- 20 soldiers were killed in a face-off with Chinese troops in Ladakh
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today he wanted to assure the nation that the sacrifice of Indian soldiers killed in a clash with Chinese troops at Galwan Valley in Ladakh would not go in vain and India, while peace-loving, is capable of giving a fitting reply if provoked. "No one should be in any doubt. India wants peace but when provoked, it is capable of giving a fitting reply, be it any situation," PM Modi warned in a strong message to China after the border fight on Monday that marked the giant escalation after weeks of tension.
"The country will be proud to know that our soldiers died fighting the Chinese," said the Prime Minister, who observed two minutes of silence in tribute to the 20 soldiers who died for the country before starting a scheduled meeting with Chief Ministers on the coronavirus crisis.
"I would like to assure the nation that the sacrifice of our jawans will not be in vain. For us, the unity and sovereignty of the country is most important," said PM Modi, who had been accused by opposition leaders like Congress's Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda of silence on the month-long tension with China and Monday's killings.
The Prime Minister said India wants that differences should not become disputes. "We never provoke anyone but we will not compromise with integrity and sovereignty. Whenever time has come, we have proved our strength and capabilities in protecting our integrity and sovereignty. Sacrifice and resilience is in our national character. But valour and courage is also our country's character," the Prime Minister warned.
PM Modi has called an all-party meeting on Friday to discuss the situation at the India-China border after the Ladakh clash. Presidents of political parties have been called for the meeting at 5 pm on Friday via video.
Army sources have told NDTV that up to 45 Chinese soldiers have been killed or injured in the fight at Galwan Valley. There were "casualties on both sides". After confirming the death of three soldiers, including a Colonel, on Tuesday morning, the army added that 17 more critically wounded soldiers were "exposed to sub-zero temperatures" and died of their injuries.
India blamed the clashes on "an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo there", rebutting China's claims that Indian soldiers crossed the border.
Since early May, hundreds of soldiers have been ranged against each other at four locations.
In a statement late Tuesday evening, India said it remained committed to peace on the border with China and had always operated on its side of the Line of Actual Control. China's foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian claimed Indian soldiers had crossed the LAC - which was rejected by New Delhi - and warned India against making any unilateral movement that could complicate the situation.
In a new statement today, China said it wanted to avoid further clashes with India and said India should "strictly restrain frontline troops, not illegally cross the border, not make provocative gestures, not take any unilateral actions that will complicate the border situation". The spokesperson said the two sides "will continue to resolve this issue through dialogue and negotiations", adding, "We of course don't wish to see more clashes."