New Delhi: In a veiled reference to China’s attempt to take over territory in Ladakh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday said the “age of expansionism is over” and applauded the troops posted in the Galwan Valley for showing “fire and fury” to the enemies.
Modi, who arrived in Leh early morning with Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Bipin Rawat and Army chief Gen. M.M. Naravane, interacted with personnel from the ITBP, Air Force and the Army in Nimu, and asserted that Ladakh is a part of India.
He also visited the military hospital in Leh where he met those injured in the violent face-off on 15 June in Galwan.
The PM was also given a detailed briefing by the 14 Corps Commander Lt Gen. Harinder Singh. Chants of ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’ and ‘Vande Mataram’ rent the air when Modi arrived at Nimu, which is about 11,000 feet up in the Himalayas and on the banks of the River Indus.
The prime minister’s visit is being seen as a morale booster for the forces and a message to China, which reacted sharply to the visit, saying “no party should engage in any action that may escalate the situation at this point”.
Modi, however, did not name China even once in his speech.
“Bharat Mata’s enemies have seen your fire and fury,” he said, addressing the troops. The Leh-based 14 Corps is known as the Fire and Fury Corps.
Taking a dig at China, without naming it, Modi said the “age of expansionism is over, this is the age of development”.
He added that history is witness to the fact that expansionist forces have either lost or were forced to turn back.
“Your arms are as strong as the mountains you are surrounded with. Your confidence, determination and belief is as strong as the peaks here,” he said.
Talking about the Galwan incident, Modi said the bravery that “you and your compatriots showed has sent a message to the world about India’s strength”.
“I once again pay my tributes to the brave soldiers martyred in the Galwan Valley. The resolve of a self-reliant India becomes stronger because of your sacrifices,” he said, addressing the soldiers.
‘India wanting peace is not its weakness’
However, Modi also underlined that India wants peace, but warned it should not be considered as its weakness. “Those who are weak can never initiate peace, bravery is a prerequisite for peace,” he said.
The prime minister also underlined the infrastructure coming up along the borders, and that the new arms and equipment being inducted by the defence forces are for peace.
“We are the same people, who pray to the flute-playing Lord Krishna, but we are also the people who idolise and follow the same Lord Krishna who carries the ‘Sudarshana Chakra’,” he said.
Modi added India has always worked for peace in the world and for the betterment of humanity.
He also recalled India has always given a befitting reply to anyone who has tried to disturb the prevailing atmosphere of peace and progress.
“Today, India is becoming stronger, be it in naval might, air power, space power and the strength of our army. Modernisation of weapons and upgradation of infrastructure has enhanced our defence capabilities multi-fold,” he said.
The prime minister said Indian soldiers had a long history of bravery and competence in global military campaigns, including in the two World Wars.
He described Ladakh as a land of sacrifice and a land that has given several patriots. Modi said the people of India are inspired by the teachings of Gautama Buddha, for whom courage was linked to conviction and compassion.
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