New Delhi: In his first remarks on the violent face-off between the troops of India and China in Ladakh's Galwan Valley, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said India wants peace but is capable of giving befitting reply if instigated, and asserted that the sacrifice of our army men will not go in vain.
In his opening remarks on day two of the virtual conference with chief ministers on the coronavirus crisis, Modi said India would not "compromise with its integrity and sovereignty" and will firmly defend its self-respect and every inch of land.
Modi's remarks came two days after the fierce clash between the troops of India and China in which at least 20 Indian Army personnel, including a colonel, were killed in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on Monday night, the biggest military confrontation in over five decades between the two countries.
"India is culturally a peace-loving country...We have always worked closely with our neighbours in a cooperative and friendly manner. Always wished for their development and welfare. We never provoke anyone, but we also do not compromise with the integrity and sovereignty of our country. Whenever the time has come, we have demonstrated our power, proving our capabilities in protecting the integrity and sovereignty of the country," he said.
Expressing condolences to the families of those killed in the face-off, the Prime minister said the brave sons of the country have made the supreme sacrifice while protecting our motherland in Galwan Valley.
"Today the whole country is with you. This sacrifice of our martyrs will not go in vain. Whatever be the situation, India will firmly defend the country's self-respect, every inch of land," he said. The Prime Minister also asked those participating the virtual interaction to observe two minute silence as a mark of respect for the slain soldiers.
Modi noted that India has always tried not to allow differences to become disputes, but said,"India's integrity and sovereignty is supreme for us, and no one can stop us from protecting it. Nobody should have any confusion or doubt about this."
The prime minister has also convened an all-party meet on June 19 to discuss the India-China border situation.
The prime minister's call for the meeting comes against the backdrop of demands by the opposition parties that the government should come out with the details of the violent face off between Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh.
"In order to discuss the situation in the India-China border areas, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for an all-party meeting at 5pm on 19th June. Presidents of various political parties would take part in this virtual meeting," the PMO tweeted.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday asked Modi to share the truth of the India-China face-off, saying the entire country is standing behind him.
Monday night's clash was the biggest confrontation between the two militaries after their 1967 clashes in Nathu La when India lost around 80 soldiers while over 300 Chinese army personnel were killed in the conflict.
The External Affairs Ministry on Tuesday said the violent face-off between armies of India and China in eastern Ladakh was the result of an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo in the region.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Home Minister Amit Shah have paid tributes to Indian soldiers, who displayed exemplary courage and valour in the line of duty and sacrificed their lives in the highest traditions of the Indian Army.
"The Nation will never forget their bravery and sacrifice. My heart goes out to the families of the fallen soldiers. The nation stands shoulder to shoulder with them in this difficult hour. We are proud of the bravery and courage of India's bravehearts," the defence minister tweeted.
In a series of tweets, Shah said the pain of losing the brave soldiers at cannot be put in words.
"India will always remain indebted for their supreme sacrifice. Entire nation and Modi government stands firmly with their families in this hour of grief. Praying for the speedy recovery of those injured," he said.