New Delhi, Aug 15 (efe-epa).- In a speech to mark the 73rd anniversary of India’s independence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday warned China and Pakistan over border disputes and the Kashmir conflict and said the Indian security forces had always given an “adequate response” to threats.
“From the Line of Control to the Line of Actual Control (India’s de-facto borders with Pakistan and China), whenever India has been challenged, our soldiers have given a fitting response in a language they understand,” Modi declared.
“What our soldiers can do, what the country can do, the world has seen in Ladakh,” said the prime minister in a clear reference to India’s recent border clashes with China in the Himalayan region in May and June.
The conflict escalated to its worst point on June 15, when Indian and Chinese troops clashed in Ladakh’s Galwan valley in the worst border clash between the two sides in 45 years.
The incident led to 20 Indian soldiers being killed and 76 injured, while China did not report the casualties on its side.
Both sides had agreed to de-escalate and withdraw troops on July 6 after talks between the military commands and diplomatic representatives of the two countries.
However, tensions have remained high and later in July New Delhi banned the use of a number of Chinese smartphone applications under the pretext of data security threats for the users. These apps included video-sharing platform TikTok, which had its biggest user base in India.
Modi also said that India would continue to fight “expansionism and terrorism,” thinly-veiled references to Pakistan’s claims over Kashmir and New Delhi’s repeated allegations that Islamabad sponsors cross-border terrorism in the region.
The historically troubled relations between the two countries have reached one of their lowest points since Aug. 5, 2019, when Modi’s Hindu right-wing government revoked the semi-autonomous status of Kashmir, the only Muslim-majority state in the country. India and Pakistan have fought two wars and many minor conflicts over the disputed region.
The Indian prime minister promised to carry out elections in the region, which was divided into two territories directly controlled by the central government last year.
“We want elections to be held. People will soon get a chance to choose their elected representatives. They will choose their MLAs (lawmakers), their ministers and their chief minister.”
Earlier this month, on the first anniversary of the controversial decision to revoke Kashmir’s autonomy – which was accompanied by unprecedented restrictions on the rights to gather, movement and a telecommunication blockade – Pakistan witnessed anti-India protests in many cities.
On the same day, the Pakistani government also unveiled a symbolic new political map of the country that included India-administered Kashmir for the first time.
Even as Pakistan has repeatedly urged the United Nation to ensure a referendum for Kashmir’s self-determination, Modi on Saturday cited international support for India.
“Today the world stands with India and to get 184 votes out of 192 nations in the UN for a (non-permanent) seat at the UN Security Council is a proof” he said.
“Today, neighbours are not only those with whom we share our geographical boundaries but also those with whom we share emotions and values. Today, India has close relations in the ‘greater neighborhood’.”
In recent years, India has gradually strengthened ties with the United States in the search of alliances in the region against China. In January during US President Donald Trump’s visit to New Delhi, he signed an agreement for the sale of military equipment worth $3 billion to India. EFE-EPA