Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday reached Leh where he interacted with personnel of the Army, Air Force and ITBP. The PM’s visit comes days after a violent face-off between Indian and Chinese troops in East Ladakh in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed.
Paying tributes to the 20 Army men, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the bravery shown by the soldiers has sent a message about the strength of India.
Addressing Army, Air Force and ITBP personnel during his surprise visit to Ladakh, he said India's resolve for 'atmanirbhar Bharat' (self-reliant India) becomes stronger because of you and your strong resolve.
“Be it Leh-Ladakh, Kargil or the Siachen Glacier, be it the high mountains or the icy cold water that flows in the rivers, these are testimony to the gallantry of India’s Armed Forces. The enemies of India have seen the fire and fury of our forces,” said the Prime Minister.
“India is committed to peace and friendship but this commitment to peace should not be seen as India’s weakness. Today India is becoming stronger, be it in naval might, air power, space power and the strength of our army. Modernization of weapons and upgradation of infrastructure has enhanced our defence capabilities multifold,” the Prime Minister added.
He told the personnel that their will power is as strong and firm as the Himalayas and the whole country is proud of them.
Modi, accompanied by Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, reached Leh around 9.30 am and then proceeded to Nimu post, sources said. Modi was also briefed by senior Army officers, they said.
Located at 11,000 feet, Nimu is among the toughest terrains, on the banks of river Indus and surrounded by the Zanskar range.
Modi's visit to Ladakh came amidst the ongoing stand-off between the Indian Army and China's PLA (People's Liberation Army) in the forward areas of the high altitude region.
Tensions had escalated between the two countries after 20 Indian Army personnel were killed in a fierce clash with Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh last month.
In his monthly "Mann ki Baat" radio address on Sunday, the prime minister had asserted that India has given a befitting reply to those who cast an evil eye on its territory in Ladakh.
He had said while the country honours the spirit of friendship, it is also capable of giving an appropriate response to any adversary.
Paying tributes to the 20 Army men killed in the violent stand-off, Modi had also said India's brave soldiers have shown that they will not allow the nation's pride to be hurt.
With PTI inputs