PM Modi on Ladakh face-off: India wants peace but capable of giving a befitting reply

“Sacrifice made by soldiers will not go in vain.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday responded to the violent clash between Indian and Chinese troops that left 20 Indian soldiers dead in east Ladakh, saying the sacrifice made by soldiers would not go in vain. India was a peace-loving country but “let no one doubt that India will defend its sovereignty and integrity with all its might,” he asserted.

Mr. Modi said this as part of his opening remarks to Chief Ministers, the second part of his videoconference with them and Lieutenant Governors of Union Territories, (UTs) on handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I pay homage to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country and convey my condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones. I want to tell the country that the sacrifice of the soldiers will not go in vain. India wants peace but if antagonised it can and will give a befitting reply whatever the situation is,” he said.

India had through its history tried to get along with its neighbours in the spirit of cooperation, and resolved differences before they became disputes. “But we have also, whenever our sovereignity is challenged, reacted with strength in defending ourselves. Peace and sacrifice is in our national character but so is valour and resolve,” he said.

“Let there be no doubt that we will act to defend our integrity and sovereignity,” he stated.

The Prime Minister has been briefed in detail about the events that took place on Monday night in east Ladakh and his only reference to that in his statement was to assure Indians that “our soldiers died having battled and killed the enemy”, a signal that there were significant casualties on the Chinese side as well.

He then asked the Chief Ministers and Lt. Governors of 15 States and UTs present at the meeting to observe two minutes of silence as a mark of respect to the soldiers who died on Monday.

With inputs from The Hindu