NEW DELHI: A day after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the Galwan Valley along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) following a violent stand-off with Chinese troops, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday paid homage to them and said India wants peace but will give a befitting reply if provoked.
Hours later, leaves sanctioned to all armed forces personnel were cancelled and all three services put on high alert. The Army has already sent additional troops and arms to its key frontline bases and formations along the LAC.
“I would like to assure the nation that the sacrifice of our jawans will not be in vain. For us, the sovereignty of the country is most important. India wants peace but it is capable to give a befitting reply if instigated,” Modi said. He also called an all-party meeting on Friday evening to discuss the situation at the border. Speaking on the stand-off for the first time while interacting with chief ministers, Modi said India never provokes anyone.
“But whenever needed, we have demonstrated our strength, proving our capabilities in protecting and defending the integrity and sovereignty of the country. Sacrifice and endurance are part of our national character. At the same time, bravery and valour are equally part of it,” Modi said.
Earlier in the day, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said his country does not want more conflicts with India.
“From our side we do not want more clashes with India,” he said. Lijian’s remarks came hours before External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held a telephonic conversation with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. According to a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs, Jaishnakar registered India’s protest against the standoff and warned it could have serious impact on bilateral ties.
“The need of the hour was for the Chinese side to reassess its actions and take corrective steps. The two sides should scrupulously and sincerely implement the understanding that was reached by the Senior Commanders on 6th June. Troops of both sides should also abide by the bilateral agreements and protocols. They should strictly respect and observe the Line of Actual Control and should not take any unilateral action to alter it,” the statement read. The Chinese statement, however, accused the Indian troops of deviating from the June 6 agreement.
“India must make sure similar incidents as that on Monday do not happen again. India must also not miscalculate the current situation, and not underestimate China’s determination to safeguard its sovereignty and territory,” the Global Times, the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece, quoted Yi as saying.
The division commander meeting, which was initially suspended, took place after the foreign ministers’ telephone call but they were inconclusive. According to sources, the meeting was suspended due to deceptive actions of the Chinese army on Monday.