Era of expansionism is over: PM in Ladakh

PM Modi visited one of the forward locations in Leh on Friday. Image source: Twitter/BJP

Sending a strong message to China, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said the era of expansionism is over and that India’s enemies have seen the “fire and fury” of its armed forces as he made a surprise visit to Ladakh in the midst of a tense border standoff between Indian and Chinese armies in a number of areas in the region.

In an address to troops, Modi paid glowing tributes to the 20 Indian soldiers killed in the Galwan Valley clashes and said tales of the bravery and valour of the armed forces are echoing in every part of the country.

“Bharat Mata’s enemies have seen your fire and fury,” Modi said in an apparent reference to the Galwan Valley clashes. He said bravery is a pre-requisite for peace and that the weak can never accomplish it.

The prime minister said the world has taken note of India’s strength due to the “exemplary bravery” of the armed forces in the recent weeks, adding history is proof that “expansionists” have either lost or perished.

“The era of expansionism has come to an end. This is the era of development…History has proved that expansionist forces have either lost or were forced to turn back,” he said.

He further said: “Your courage is higher than the heights where you are serving today. When the safety of the country is in your hands, then there is a belief. Not only me, but the entire nation believes in you. We all are proud of you.”

The prime minister was accompanied by Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat and Army Chief Gen MM Naravane.

“Whether during the world wars or peace, the world has seen the victory of our brave soldiers and their efforts towards peace,” he said amid chants of ‘Vande Mataram’.

“We are the same people who pray to the flute-playing Lord Krishna, but we are also those who idolise and pray to the same Lord Krishna who carries the ‘Sudarshana Chakra’,” he said.

The Indian and Chinese armies are locked in a bitter standoff in multiple locations in eastern Ladakh for the last seven weeks. The tension escalated manifold after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a violent clash in Galwan Valley on June 15. The Chinese side also suffered casualties but it is yet to give out the details.

In his address, Modi spoke at length about how the virtues of peace, friendship and courage have been a part of India’s culture since time immemorial. He recalled that India has always given a befitting reply to anyone who has tried to disturb the prevailing atmosphere of peace and progress.

The prime minister affirmed that India is committed to peace and friendship but this commitment to peace should not be seen as India’s weakness.

Today India is becoming stronger, be it in naval might, air power, space power and the strength of our army, he said, adding modernisation of weapons and upgrading of infrastructure has enhanced the country’s defence capabilities manifold.

He also said that government is putting adequate focus on requirement of armed forces.

Modi travelled to Nimu, a forward post, to interact with Indian troops. Nimu is surrounded by the Zanskar range and is on the banks of river Indus. The Prime Minister met the top leadership of the Indian Army and later interacted with personnel of the Army, Air Force and ITBP.

In his address, Modi remembered all the “proud sons of Mother India” who made the supreme sacrifice at the Galwan Valley, adding those who were martyred belong to all parts of the country and “epitomised our land’s ethos of bravery”.

He affirmed that be it Leh-Ladakh, Kargil or the Siachen Glacier, be it the high mountains or the icy cold water that flows in the rivers, these are testimony to the gallantry of India’s Armed Forces.

The situation in eastern Ladakh deteriorated after around 250 Chinese and Indian soldiers were engaged in a violent face-off on May 5 and 6. The incident in Pangong Tso was followed by a similar incident in north Sikkim on May 9.

Neither side should complicate border situation: China

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi undertook a surprise visit on Friday to eastern Ladakh to meet troops amid a bitter Sino-India military standoff, China said neither side should make any move that may complicate the border situation.

Reacting to Modi’s visit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters, “China and India are in communication with each other through military and diplomatic channels. Neither side should make any move that may complicate the border situation.”

At the briefing, Zhao also said that Beijing will take necessary measures to uphold the legitimate rights of its businesses in India following New Delhi’s decision to bar Chinese firms from taking part in road projects and amid reports of delay in customs clearances of shipments of Chinese firms. “The Indian side should not have strategic miscalculation on China. We hope it will work with China to uphold the overall picture of our bilateral relations,” he said.