Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Sunday (October 25) that India wants an end to the border tension with China in eastern Ladakh, but added that Indian soldiers will never allow even an inch of the country to be taken away by anyone.
The defence minister made the above remarks after performing the “Shastra Puja” — the customary worship of weapons — at the Sukna-based headquarters of the Indian Army’s 33 Corps in Darjeeling district of West Bengal on the occasion of Dussehra.
The defence minister was scheduled to perform the puja at Sherathang, a high-altitude border area near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in Sikkim, but could not go there due to inclement weather, officials said. “India wants an end to the ongoing border tension with China and restoration of peace. This is our objective. But at times, some nefarious incidents keep happening. I am very confident that our soldiers will never allow even an inch of our land to be taken away by anyone,” Singh said after performing the “puja”.
Chief of Army Staff General MM Naravane and several senior officers of the Army were present on the occasion when the defence minister performed the “puja” at the key military base, which is responsible for guarding the LAC in the Sikkim sector. After performing the puja, Singh inaugurated a new road in Sikkim through a video-conference from Sukna.
“I can say with confidence and on the basis of concrete information that the courage and deeds of Indian soldiers during whatever has happened at the India-China border in Ladakh recently will be written in golden letters by the historians,” the minister said without elaborating.
विजयादशमी पर्व पर आयोजित शस्त्रपूजन समारोह में भाग ले रहा हूँ। हमसे जुड़िए https://t.co/sNQyKUm9f0
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) October 25, 2020
Twenty Indian soldiers laid down their lives while fighting a group of Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on June 15, an incident that had significantly escalated the border tension between the two countries. China is yet to disclose the number of its soldiers killed and injured in the clash, though it has officially admitted to have suffered casualties. According to Indian officials, China suffered “heavy casualties” in the incident.
Indian troops also occupied a number of strategic heights in the Mukhpari, Rezang La and Magar hill areas around the southern bank of the Pangong lake in eastern Ladakh, after the Chinese military attempted to allegedly infiltrate the region on the intervening night of August 29 and 30.
Both sides held a series of diplomatic and military talks to resolve the row that began on May 5, following a violent clash in eastern Ladakh. However, no breakthrough has been achieved to end the standoff.
The defence minister’s “Shastra Puja” at the strategically important military base was a message to India’s adversaries, a military official said. Singh has been performing “Shastra Puja” during Dussehra for the last several years, including during his tenure as the Union home minister in the previous NDA government.
Almost all formations of the Indian Army along the LAC are on a very high level of alert in view of the border row with China in eastern Ladakh. The defence minister arrived at the Sukna-based headquarters of the 33 Corps on Saturday.
Meanwhile, speaking on the India-China dispute at the RSS’s annual Vijayadashami rally, RSS leader Mohan Bhagwat sought strengthening of ties with neighboring countries and wanted the country to become “more powerful” to counter the current situation with China.
The RSS’s annual Vijayadashami rally this time was limited to an indoor event attended by 50 swayamsevaks (volunteers) due to COVID-19 guidelines.
“China gets mentioned in an uncertain (asandigdha) way in the discourse over corona pandemic. An arrogant and expansionist China encroached upon our territory. It is conducting itself similarly to the whole world. But Bharat’s reaction numbed, jolted them. Our soldiers gave them a brave reply and we all stood together as patriots.
“Due to this, other countries, too, have started scolding China. This has created a situation for it (China) that it hadn’t thought of. It’s not clear how it will now react. So, we will have to always remain awake and prepared,” The Indian Express quoted Bhagwat as saying.
He added, “We will have to improve our strategic preparedness, economic power, and international relations and grow bigger than China in power and scope in our relationship with the neighbours.”
(With inputs from agencies)