In the first visit from the executive leadership to Ladakh since the standoff with China began in early May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday made an unannounced trip to Leh, spoke with soldiers injured during the violent face-off with Chinese troops last month as well as the Army leadership, and paid tributes to the slain soldiers at the Hall of Fame Army Museum.
Modi was accompanied by Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and Army Chief General M M Naravane.
Speaking to the injured soldiers at the Military Hospital in Leh, Modi credited them with never allowing the country’s head to be bowed down.
“Duniya ki kisi bhi taakat ke saamne na kabhi jhuke hain, na kabhi jhukenge. Aur yeh baat main bol pa raha hoon aap jaise veer, parakrami saathiyon ke karan (We have never bowed in front of any power, and we never will. And I can say this because of the valour and courageous people like you).”
Modi appreciated how the soldiers had fought the Chinese on June 15. He said, “You fought with valour, and I have said earlier too — those who left us, they did not go just like that; you gave them a strong response.”
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He told the injured troops that the entire country is proud of them, and that their courage and gallantry will inspire the young generation and the country for a long time. He also said the whole world is appreciating and analysing the courage and commitment shown by the troops.
The soldiers had been injured in clashes with Chinese troops in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley. Both sides had suffered casualties in the violent face-off, with India losing 20 soldiers.
The Prime Minister subsequently visited the Hall of Fame Museum run by the Army and paid tributes to soldiers killed in action on June 15.
Earlier in the day, Modi held detailed discussions about the ground situation in the region with Lt General Y K Joshi, Northern Army Commander, and Lt General Harinder Singh, XIV Corps Commander at Nimmu, which is about 40 km from Leh and has a major base of the 3rd Infantry Division. There, he addressed soldiers from the Army, the Air Force and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).
The base is located at a height of 11,000 feet.
Modi’s trip had not been announced in advance. Earlier, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was scheduled to visit Ladakh on Friday along with Gen Naravane, but that trip was deferred on Thursday.
The Army Chief has visited Ladakh twice since the standoff began. In his first trip – in May – he had visited only the XIV Corps headquarters in Leh.
In his second, on June 23-24, he met the injured soldiers in Leh and also visited the forward areas.
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