Written by Krishn Kaushik | New Delhi | Published: June 29, 2020 4:55:34 am
An Indian Army convoy moves along a highway leading to Ladakh, at Gagangeer in Kashmir’s Ganderbal district. (Photo: Reuters)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah asserted Sunday that India is capable of and committed to defending its sovereignty.
In his Mann ki Baat radio address, Modi said that India has demonstrated its commitment to safeguard its territorial integrity. And Shah, in response to a question in an interview, said that India would win both the battles it’s fighting — one against Covid and the other against China’s attempts to intrude along the Line of Actual Control. The statements from the top two in the Government came with the eight-week-long military standoff showing no signs of de-escalation.
Modi said during the pandemic, the world had seen “India’s spirit of universal brotherhood…at the same time it also noticed India’s commitment and might when it comes to safeguarding her sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
“Those who cast an evil eye on Indian soil in Ladakh have got a befitting response. India honours the spirit of friendship… she is also capable of giving an appropriate response to any adversary, without shying away.
Our brave soldiers have proven that they will not let anyone cast an evil eye on the glory and honour of Mother India,” the Prime Minister said.
This was echoed by Shah in an ANI interview. The interviewer said that India was, in a way, “fighting do jung (two battles) — one against Covid, the other related to efforts by the Chinese Army to intrude into Ladakh.”
Responding, Shah said: “Dono jung hum jeetenge. Main janta ko ashwast karna chahata hun ki Modi ji ke netritva mein dono jung hum jeetenge”. (We will win both the battles. I want to assure the people that under Modi’s leadership we will win both the battles.)
The LAC in eastern Ladakh, where India and China are involved in an intense standoff since early May, is just west of the Aksai Chin region, which is under Chinese control.
On August 6, last year, during the debate on abrogation of Article 370 and making Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir two independent Union Territories, Shah had said in the Parliament that Kashmir was an “integral” part of the country and included Aksai Chin.
“I want to state it on record, that whenever I have mentioned Jammu and Kashmir state, it has included Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Aksai Chin. The borders decided by the Constitution of India and Jammu and Kashmir’s constitution include Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Aksai Chin.”
After the standoff in Ladakh turned violent in Galwan Valley on June 15, in which both sides suffered casualties, with India losing 20 soldiers, the government had called an all-party meeting on June 19. In his concluding remarks at the meeting, Modi had said that nobody had entered Indian territory.
“Na wahan koi hamari seema mein ghus aaya hai, na hi koi ghusa hua hai, na hi hamari koi post kisi doosre ke kabze main hai”. (Neither has anyone entered our territory, nor is anyone inside, nor has any of our posts been captured by anyone.)
In his interview, while Shah skirted the questions on the LAC and China, he referred to what he called “anti-India propaganda” on social media.
“…it is sad that at this time of crisis you are indulging in such propaganda. It is a matter of concern for the Congress party that your leader’s hashtag is being promoted by Pakistan and China. You are saying things that are being liked in Pakistan and China,” Shah said in reference to certain tweets by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on the situation at the LAC.
In his Mann ki Baat on Sunday, Modi did not comment on the standoff, and did not name China but he referred to the soldiers who lost their lives along the LAC.
“The entire country comes together in paying tributes to the bravery of our soldiers who attained martyrdom in Ladakh,” he said, and added that “the entire country bows them in reverence, with gratitude”.
“Just like their family members, every Indian painfully regrets the loss. The pride and devotion to country felt by the family members on the sacrifice made by the soldiers, is the strength of the country.”
Referring to comments made by the father of one of the soldiers who was killed, Kundan Kumar of Bihar, Modi said that “he had mentioned sending even his grandsons to the army to defend the country”.
“This spirit permeates all martyrs’ families. Truly, the sense of sacrifice displayed by these family members is worth veneration. The resolve with which our soldiers made the supreme sacrifice for the security of Mother India, should be the aim of our lives, and it applies to each and every one of us.”
Modi also said that making the country self-reliant will be a tribute to the soldiers in the “truest, deepest sense.”
Modi said that before Independence “our country (in defence) was ahead of many countries in the world” as there were “multitude of ordnance factories”. Many countries that lagged behind India then, he said, “are ahead of us now”.
“After Independence, we should have made efforts in the defence sector, taking advantage of our prior experience,” said Modi, but “we did not”. Now, he said, “in defence and technology, India is taking strides towards self-reliance.”
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