Indian Prime Minister Modi Says Soldiers' Deaths 'Will Not Be In Vain'

Indian Prime Minister Modi Says Soldiers' Deaths 'Will Not Be In Vain'

June 17, 2020, 8:27 p.m.

India's prime minister has said the deaths of at least 20 soldiers in a fight with Chinese troops in a disputed Himalayan border area "will not be in vain".

Narendra Modi said India would be "proud that our soldiers died fighting the Chinese" in the clash in the Ladakh region on Monday.

Addressing the confrontation for the first time in a televised address on Wednesday, Prime Minister Modi said: "India wants peace but when provoked, India is capable of giving a fitting reply, be it any kind of situation.

"The country will be proud that our soldiers died fighting the Chinese."

He said he wanted to "assure the nation" the loss of the soldiers would "not be in vain". "For us, the unity and sovereignty of the country is the most important," he added.

China has accused India of crossing the border onto the Chinese side. Its foreign ministry said on Wednesday it wanted to avoid further clashes but gave no further details.

Soldiers reportedly brawled with sticks, bats and bamboo sticks studded with nails. No shots were fired. Both sides blamed each other.

It is the first deadly clash between the two sides in the border area, in the disputed Kashmir region, in at least 45 years. Some Indian soldiers are still believed to be missing.

India's army said China also suffered casualties but Beijing has given no details.

The Indian statement notes that injured soldiers were "exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain".

As each side traded accusations, India said China had tried to "unilaterally change the status quo". Beijing accused Indian troops of "attacking Chinese personnel".

The two armies later held talks to try to defuse tensions.

What happened?

The fighting occurred in the precipitous, rocky terrain of the strategically important Galwan Valley, which lies between China's Tibet and India's Ladakh.

Indian media say soldiers engaged in direct hand-to-hand combat, with some "beaten to death". During the fight, one newspaper reported, others fell or were pushed into a river.

Source: BBC

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