New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while at Leh, said in a clear warning to China without naming it, that the "age of expansionism is over."
Addressing India's armed forces, he said, "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 go back."
This assertion by Modi in the Ladakh region is extremely significant given the ongoing tension at the LAC with China in eastern Ladakh, barely 18 days after a violent stand-off.
While China has been concerned about India ramping up infrastructure in the Ladakh region, Modi on Friday hinted India is not reviewing that. "We have increased expenditure on development of infrastructure in the border area by three times," Modi said.
He also paid his tributes to the martyrs of the Galwan Valley clash.
In what can be seen as India's unequivocal assertion that its restraint should not be seen otherwise, he invoked Lord Krishna, "We are the same people who pray to Lord Krishna but who plays the flute. But we are also the same people who follow the same Lord Krishna who carries the 'Sudarshana Chakra'.
In fact, there have been more than one time when Modi mentioned Galwan Valley that witnessed one of the most violent India-China clashes recently. Modi said while addressing India's armed forces in the Ladakh region that from Galwan's icy waters to every mountain peak, all are witness to the valour of Indian soldiers. He praised the bravery of the 14 Corps which he said has become a tale to discuss in every household.
Sources said that Modi reached Ladakh early morning and was briefed by the Army, Air Force and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police at one of the forward locations in Nimu. Located at 11,000 feet above sea level, Nimu is among the tough terrain, surrounded by the Zanskar range and on the banks of the Indus.
The Prime Minister, accompanied by Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane, will also interact with injured soldiers at the military hospital in Leh, in what will be a morale booster for the forces.
On June 17, Modi had stated that the sacrifice made by 20 soldiers who went down fighting against the People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops at Galwan Valley on June 15 night "will not go in vain".
He also said that while India wants peace, it will give a "befitting reply" if provoked. "India's integrity and sovereignty is supreme for us, and no one can stop us from defending it. Nobody should have any iota of doubt about this," said Modi. "Indian troops went down fighting ("maarte, maarte mare hain")," he had said.
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