India believes in resolving disputes with neighbours through dialogue but it will not tolerate if provoked or threatened, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said while addressing soldiers in Ladakh on Monday, in a clear message to China amid a stalemate in the disengagement process in remaining friction points in eastern Ladakh.
Speaking at an event in a forward location on the second day of his visit to the region, Singh said India is a peace-loving nation that never resorts to any kind of aggression but its armed forces are always prepared to give a befitting reply to those who "show their eyes" to the country.
Asserting that the nation's safety and security will not be compromised at any cost, Singh said the solution to any dispute can be found if there is a clear intent.
The defence minister also paid glowing tributes to the 20 soldiers killed in the Galwan Valley clashes in June last year, and said the country will never forget their sacrifices.
"India is a peace-loving nation which does not believe in aggression, however, if provoked, we will give a befitting reply," he said.
Singh's three-day visit to the region comes in the midst of a stalemate in resolving over a year-long standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in several friction points in eastern Ladakh though they withdrew troops and weapons from Pangong lake areas in February.
"We had to face a big challenge along the Northern border last year. But our armed forces displayed their courage and dedication to deal with it...Our Army has the capability to give a befitting reply to every challenge," he said.
The defence minister assured the nation that the armed forces are fully prepared to deal with any situation.
"We have always worked for world peace. We never attack anyone. Our objective has never been to achieve victory against anyone. India has neither attacked any country nor occupied an inch. Our intention is very clear," he said.
"Our neighbours should think that we have been neighbours for ages, we will remain neighbours for ages. Can we not find permanent solutions to the disputed issues through talks. We were neighbours, we are neighbours and we will remain neighbours. I am talking about all the neighbours. We can find solutions provided we have clear intent," he said.
The defence minister made these comments in an address at an event in Kyungam as well as during an interaction with soldiers in Karu forward post.
"Our armed forces have proved that they have courage and might. Where there is a need for restraint, our army also shows restraint and where there is a need for bravery and might, the armed forces display them," Singh said.
"I have full faith in the valour and bravery of the army and they have the ability to give a befitting reply to those who show their eyes," he added.
In Karu, Singh lauded the resoluteness and high morale of the armed forces while being deployed in the challenging high altitude terrain of Ladakh.
"It is because of your heroics that you have been adorned with the name of 'Trishul' division. Today you are protecting the northern borders of the country by being fierce like Lord Shankar's 'Trishul' and I am sure that you are capable of facing any situation arising on the border," he said.
The defence minister also assured all possible support to the armed forces, reaffirming the vision of the government of a strong military that is capable of dealing with every eventuality.
India will never forget the sacrifice of soldiers who laid down their lives in Galwan Valley for the country, Singh said.
He lauded the exemplary courage displayed by the Indian Army during the incident and stated that the nation is proud of its armed forces.
Twenty Indian Army personnel laid down their lives in clashes with Chinese troops in Galwan Valley on June 15 last year that marked the most serious military conflicts between the two sides in decades.
In February, China officially acknowledged that five Chinese military officers and soldiers were killed in the clashes with the Indian Army though it is widely believed that the death toll was higher.
On the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, Singh said the strong and visionary steps have bolstered national unity, led to a major reduction in terrorist activities sponsored from outside and opened new avenues for the socio-economic development of the people.
On Sunday, Singh carried out a comprehensive review of India's military preparedness in eastern Ladakh.
The defence minister, accompanied by Army Chief Gen MM Naravane, was given a detailed briefing about the prevailing situation as well as India's combat readiness in the region by top commanders of the Army at the Leh-based headquarters of the 14 Corps, officials said.
India and China were locked in a military standoff at multiple friction points in eastern Ladakh since early May last year. However, the two sides completed the withdrawal of troops and weapons from the North and South banks of Pangong lake in February following a series of military and diplomatic talks.
The two sides are now engaged in talks to extend the disengagement process to the remaining friction points. India has been particularly pressing for disengagement of troops in Hot Springs, Gogra and Depsang.
According to military officials, each side currently has around 50,000 to 60,000 troops along the Line of Actual Control in the sensitive sector.
There was no visible forward movement in disengagement of troops in the remaining friction points as the Chinese side did not show flexibility in their approach on it at the 11th round of military talks.