New Delhi, Jul 3 (efe-epa)-. The prime minister of India made a surprise visit to the northwestern region of Ladakh on Friday, where a serious border clash with China occurred on Jun. 15, in which 20 Indian soldiers lost their lives and 76 were wounded.
Narendra Modi visited the Nimu area, which houses a military base of the Indian armed forces in the Himalayan region bordering China, and paid tribute to fallen soldiers, while also calling for peace.
Modi’s Instagram account showed a photo of him with army officers during his interaction with “brave” troops at an altitude of more than 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) above sea level.
Later, wearing sunglasses and an army cap of the 14th regiment deployed at the border, Modi addressed soldiers – wearing protective masks due to the Covid-19 pandemic – and paid tribute to those that lost their lives as well as those who remained deployed at the border.
“Your courage is greater than the heights where you are deployed on,” stressed Modi in a visit that is largely seen as a morale booster for troops following the clash last month.
Rather than warmongering, in his speech, the prime minister underlined the difficulty of staying calm in times of provocation and claimed that war was not the answer to the current situation.
“Those who are weak can never initiate peace, bravery is a pre-requisite for peace,” said Modi, while sending a warning to the possible expansionist tendencies of neighboring China.
“Age of expansionism is over, this is the age of development. (…) History is witness that expansionist forces have either lost or were forced to turn back,” he added.
Since the recent clash, which marked the worst military confrontation between India and China in the last 45 years, the two countries have been in the process of de-escalation in the area through talks between senior army officials.
Both nations have blamed one other for the clash in Galwan Valley, where no firearms were used. According to the Indian authorities, there were also casualties on the Chinese side, something that is yet to be confirmed by Beijing.
Earlier this week, the Indian Army reported that military commanders held their third meeting at the border to reduce tensions in the wake of the clash.
The two nuclear armed states have territorial disputes over several Himalayan regions, with Beijing claiming the Arunachal Pradesh region that is controlled by New Delhi. India too claims Aksai Chin, administered by China.
The latest efforts to reduce tensions come after a series of accusations and counter-accusations between New Delhi and Beijing about who provoked the confrontation on the border area on Galwan Valley in Ladakh, which followed another clash – without casualties – in May in another area of the nearly 4,000 kilometers long border.
India has accused its neighbor of sending large number of troops and erecting structures in the area, while China has accused Indian troops of provoking their soldiers.
Apart from military and diplomatic talks, India has announced blocking 59 mostly Chinese mobile applications, including TikTok,on the grounds that they were detrimental to the country’s security. EFE-EPA