Beaten at LoC and LAC, Modi again warns Pakistan and China
After Pakistan shot down its two warplanes and China killed its 20 soldiers in border clashes, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday claimed that country’s soldiers had given a fitting reply to anyone who had challenged its sovereignty.
“We have given a befitting reply: ‘from LoC to LAC’,” Narendra Modi said while addressing the nation on its 74th Independence Day.
"From LoC (Line of Control) to LAC (Line of Actual Control), whenever India's sovereignty has been challenged, our soldiers have answered them in their own language," said Modi, without naming Pakistan and China.
Referring to the clash with China in June at Galwan Valley in Ladakh, Modi said: "India's integrity is supreme for us. What our jawans can do, what the country can do, the world saw that in Ladakh. Today, I salute all those brave soldiers from the Red Fort."
Whether it is terrorism or expansionism, India is fighting both, he said and added "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 proof," he said.
Attendance at the historic Red Fort in New Delhi for the speech was cut by more than half to 4,000 people, all of whom sat two metres (six feet) apart because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Hindu nationalist prime minister mentioned confrontations with Pakistan and China on their disputed borders, but without naming either country. "Anyone who has cast an eye on the country's sovereignty, the country's army has answered them in their own language," he said.
"India's integrity is supreme for us. What we can do, what our soldiers can do -- everyone saw that in Ladakh," referring to a border clash with Chinese troops in the Ladakh region of the Himalayas on June 15.
Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in the clash, which saw the two sides fighting with batons, stones and bare fists. China has also acknowledged that it suffered casualties but without giving numbers.
The two sides have blamed each other for the fighting and tens of thousands of Indian and Chinese troops, who also fought a border war in 1962, have since been sent to the region.
Modi has insisted that no land was lost in the battle but military experts have used satellite images to counter that Chinese troops occupy frontier territory that India had claimed for decades.
India has in turn used economic weapons against China. It has banned at least 59 apps, including the major video-sharing platform TikTok, and taken other measures to freeze Chinese firms out of contracts and block its imports.
Modi said that relations with neighbours are now linked to "security, progress and trust". "A neighbour isn't just someone who shares our geography but those who share our hearts. Where the relationship is respected, it becomes warmer," he said.
The 1.4-million-strong military would be built up, he added. "India is just as committed to its security and strengthening its army as the attempts it has made for peace and harmony," he said, stressing efforts to make India "self-reliant" in defence production.
Modi also said that his priority was getting India out of the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
India is expected to pass 50,000 deaths in the coming days and three million cases within a week. It has the fastest-growing caseload in the world and is now only behind Brazil and the United States in terms of total case numbers.
In the one-hour 26-minute speech, he focused on the themes of "Aatma Nirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India)", "Vocal for local" and "Make in India to Make for World". He also paid tribute to those on the frontlines of the fight against the coronavirus and declared that India had a roadmap ready for the production and distribution of three COVID-19 vaccines that are at various stages of testing.
Modi underscored that neighbours were not only those that India shared a border with. Relations with neighbours depended on security, progress and trust, he said. "A neighbour isn't just someone who shares our borders but those who share our hearts. Where the relationship is respected, it becomes warmer. Today, India has close relations in the greater neighbourhood. We are working together and have a lot of mutual respect for each other," Modi insisted.
With the economy expected to shrink this year, Modi reaffirmed an election promise to spend 1.3 trillion dollars on 7,000 infrastructure projects "to get us out of the pandemic situation".