Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured that the sacrifice made by 20 Indian soldiers killed in a violent clash with Chinese troops in a disputed border-area in the Himalayas two days ago, will not "go in vain".

Addressing a virtual meeting with chief ministers on the Covid-19 crisis, Modi also warned that while India was for peace, it will not tolerate provocation.

"I want to assure the nation that the sacrifice made by our soldiers will not go in vain. India's integrity and sovereignty is supreme for us, and no one can stop us from defending it.

"Nobody should have an iota of doubt about this. India wants peace. But when provoked, India will give a befitting reply," he was quoted saying during the meeting, by Hindustan Times.

Calling the fallen Indian soldiers "martyrs", Modi added that the country will firmly protect "every inch of its land, and self-respect".

The clashes happened on Monday night along the disputed border between India and China, in Galwan Valley, along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) high in the Himalayas.

According to CNN, the bloody brawl saw the soldiers fighting with fists, stones, and nail-studded bamboo poles. Besides the 20 fatalities, 76 other Indian soldiers were also wounded. There are reported casualties on the Chinese side.

Following the incident, both nuclear-armed countries had sought to de-escalate tensions.

Indian external affairs minister S Jaishankar, in a phone conversation with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, voiced strong protest against the incident, but both sides agreed to not take any action to escalate matters on the ground, and pledged to handle the situation in a "responsible" manner.

Monday's clashes is the first time the Indian Army has suffered casualties in a border skirmish with the People's Liberation Army in 45 years.

In October 1975, four Indian patrol soldiers died after being shot dead by Chinese troops in an ambush in Arunachal Pradesh's Tulung La sector.


Source: Hindustan Times, CNN
Photo source: Hindustan Times, bbc.com