Indian prime minister Narendra Modi Friday visited Ladakh and addressed the armed forces, asserting that the “age of expansionism is over”.
In Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh, 20 Indian Army men were killed in clashes with Chinese People’s Liberation Army troopers June 15, and the two countries’ troops have seen massive reinforcement all along their 2,000-plus-mile, mostly mountainous border.
“The age of expansionism is over, this is the age of development. History has been witness that expansionist forces have either lost or were forced to retreat,” Modi said, addressing soldiers.
In another signal to China, he said: “We have increased expenditure on development of infrastructure in the border area by three times.”
China has been concerned about India ramping up infrastructure in the Ladakh region.
Modi paid tributes to those who fell in the Galwan Valley clash. “This land will remember their sacrifices, you have made every Indian proud,” he said.
“From Ladakh to Kargil, your courage has been seen by all. Ladakh is the crown of India and this land is sacred to us. We are ready to sacrifice our lives for the country. The world knows about India’s strength, our enemies’ devious designs won’t succeed,” Modi said to soldiers in Nimu in Ladakh.
“The bravery of 14 Corps will be talked about everywhere. Tales of your bravery and valor are echoing in every house in the country. Bharat Mata’s enemies have seen your fire and fury,” he said. “We are the same people who pray to Lord Krishna who plays a flute. But we are also the same people who follow the same Lord Krishna who carries the Sudarshan Chakra.”
Sources said that Modi reached Ladakh early Friday morning and was briefed by the army, air force and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police in Nimu, located at 11,000 feet above sea level on the banks of the Indus.
To the soldiers, he said, “Your courage is higher than the heights where you are posted today. The resolve of a self-reliant India becomes stronger because of your sacrifices.”
Modi, sitting in a military camouflage tent, spoke to hundreds of soldiers seated at a distance from each other, in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
The prime minister, accompanied by chief of defense staff General Bipin Rawat and Indian Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane, also met at the military hospital in Leh with soldiers injured in Galwan.
“The prime minister going to Ladakh, meeting with soldiers and encouraging them has definitely strengthened their morale,” Indian defense minister Rajnath Singh said on social media.
He was to travel to Leh Friday but his trip was cancelled.