Updated: June 17, 2020 9:10:58 pm
In his first public remark on the violent clashes between Indian and Chinese forces in Galwan Valley, in which 20 military personnel were killed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday said India wants peace but will respond appropriately if provoked. He said the sacrifice of the Indian soldiers will not go in vain.
Modi’s remarks came even as the Foreign Ministers of India and China spoke for the first time after the clashes Monday night. The Prime Minister also convened an all-party meeting on Friday to brief the leaders about the situation at the Line of Actual Control. The meeting is seen as an attempt to build a broad political consensus on New Delhi’s response, both military, economic and diplomatic, to the Chinese incursion.
After the afternoon phone conversation between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and the State Councillor and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi, the MEA said India and China “agreed that the overall situation would be handled in a responsible manner, and both sides would implement the disengagement understanding of 6 June sincerely”.
“Neither side would take any action to escalate matters and instead, ensure peace and tranquillity as per bilateral agreements and protocols,” an MEA statement said. Jaishankar, the statement said, conveyed India’s protest on the violent face-off in Galwan Valley in the strongest terms. Jaishankar told his Chinese counterpart that the “unprecedented development” will have a serious impact on the bilateral relationship.
Around the same time, the Prime Minister in a televised address spelt out New Delhi’s position. He paid tribute to the slain soldiers and said their sacrifice will not go in vain. He said India will firmly protect every inch of its land and defend its self-respect. Modi said India would not “compromise with its integrity and sovereignty”.
The Prime Minister said India has culturally and historically been a peace-loving country. “We have always worked with our neighbours in a cooperative and friendly manner. Always wished for their development and welfare. We have always tried to ensure that differences do not turn into disputes. We never provoke anyone. But we also do not compromise with the integrity and sovereignty of our country. Whenever the need arose, we have demonstrated our power and proved our capabilities in protecting the integrity and sovereignty of the country,” he said.
PM Modi said India’s “integrity and sovereignty is supreme for us and no one can stop us from protecting that.” Modi said the country should be proud of the fallen soldiers as they died fighting (Woh maarte maarte marein hai).
The day began with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh sharing his thoughts publicly for the first time since the violent clashes. Singh mourned the loss of soldiers, and said the country will never forget their sacrifice. “The loss of soldiers in Galwan is deeply disturbing and painful. Our soldiers 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 stand shoulder to shoulder with them in this difficult hour. We are proud of the bravery and courage of India’s breavehearts.” Singh said on Twitter.
And the series of meetings between the political and military leadership continued on Wednesday with Singh getting briefed about the ground situation by the military top brass once again. Sources mentioned that even a decision from the top is awaited, the forces have been asked to be alert and “prepare for any situation all along the border with China, not restricted to just Ladakh”. Sources mentioned that Singh is keeping a close eye on the situation on the ground.
Singh took a meeting at 10 in the morning with Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Army Chief General MM Naravane, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh and Chief of Air Force Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria.
Asserting that the brutal killing of Indian Army personnel by Chinese forces have shaken the conscience of the country, Congress president Sonia Gandhi posed several hard questions to the BJP government and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to tell the country how China was able to occupy Indian territory.
In a video message, she said the prime minister should disclose to the country the situation on the ground in Galwan Valley. Pointing out that there is so much anger in the country over the killings, she said “the Prime Minister should come forward and tell the nation the truth as to how China occupied Indian soil and why 20 of our brave Indian soldiers were martyred? What is the situation on the ground? Are our Army officers or soldiers still missing? How many of our Army officers and soldiers are seriously injured.”
“Cheen ne hamare kitne hisse par aur kahan kahan kabza kar rakha hain. What is the thinking, policy and solution of the Government to deal with the situation… We want to assure that the Congress party stands with our Army, its soldiers and their families and the government in this hour of crisis. I am confident that the entire country will unite and face the enemy in these challenging times. I urge the Prime Minister to come before the nation at this time of crisis and reassure the country on the basis of truth and fact.
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