PM Modi says India can respond to China if provoked

Indian army trucks move along a highway leading to Ladakh, at Gagangeer in Kashmir’s Ganderbal district, on Wednesday. (Reuters)
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Updated 18 June 2020

PM Modi says India can respond to China if provoked

  • Issues statement a day after 20 troops were killed along border with China in Ladakh

NEW DELHI: A day after a deadly clash with China, which claimed the lives of more than 20 Indian soldiers along the disputed Himalayan border in Ladakh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday that the sacrifice of the troops would not be in vain.

“India wants peace, but when instigated, India is capable of giving a befitting reply, be it any kind of situation,” Modi said in an interaction with the chief ministers of several Indian states on Wednesday.

He added India had “shown our strength” when facing provocation before.

“India will defend every stone, every inch of its territory. India is a peace-loving country which has always tried to maintain cooperative and friendly relations with neighbors,” he said.

Modi’s statement came as opposition parties began questioning his silence on the issue.

“The sacrifice of the Indian soldiers has shaken the conscience of the whole nation,” India’s main opposition Congress Party president, Sonia Gandhi, said in a video message on Wednesday.

“There is a strong resentment across the country against this incident. Prime Minister (Modi) should come forward and tell the truth to the nation as to how China captured our land and how the lives of 20 soldiers were sacrificed,” Gandhi said.

Meanwhile, emotions ran high across the country with several cities witnessing protests against China.

People came out on the streets in Bhopal, the capital of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, on Wednesday, and burnt Chinese flags and effigies of China’s President Xi Jinping.

“The way China has been intruding into the Indian treaty and misbehaving with the Indian soldiers, the current escalation is the byproduct of this ugly behavior by China,” Chandrasekhar Tiwari, of the Indian group Forum to Save the Culture, told Arab News.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) called for a boycott of more than 450 Chinese products on Wednesday.

“The CAIT has decided to step up its nationwide movement (for) the boycott of Chinese goods which was launched on 10 June under its campaign,” Praveen Khandelwal, general secretary of the CAIT, told Arab News.

The clash on Tuesday, in Ladakh, marked the first significant escalation between the two Asian giants since 1975.

The tension started building up early last month when Indian troops blamed China’s military for hindering the usual patrolling at the Line of Actual Control along the Ladakh and Sikkim border.

Beijing blamed its southern neighbor for building road infrastructure in the Fingers region around the Pangong Tso Lake and Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh.

Amid this blame-game, both sides started the reinforcement of troops, leading to a military buildup.

According to media reports, China deployed nearly 2,500 extra troops in the region, in addition to enhancing its weaponry and military infrastructure.

The violence took place in the Galwan Valley, supposedly as both sides were negotiating de-escalation measures with each other.

“The sovereignty of the Galwan Valley area has always belonged to China. The Indian border troops flip-flopped and seriously violated our border protocols on border-related issues, and the consensus of our commander level talks,” Zhao Lijian, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, told the media in Beijing on Wednesday.

Political experts, however, believe that the issue is not about land, but about the more significant problem of the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and its geopolitical significance.

“The problem of Jammu and Kashmir is a geopolitical issue that goes back 200 years, and Delhi has refused to see it in the last 72

years as a geopolitical issue,” Asia Siddiq Wahid, a Srinagar-based professor and an expert on the history of Ladakh and Central Asia, told Arab News.

“The ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has consistently and vociferously claimed that Jammu and Kashmir is not a dispute and sought to reduce it to a one-sided, internal affair. Instead, it finds itself facing a discourse that has catapulted the Jammu and Kashmir dispute from its tacitly-accepted bilateral dispute into a multilateral one and, now, a global issue,” Wahid added.

“In doing so, the BJP government has brought the region’s geopolitical focus back into fashion after a hiatus of almost half a century.”

Prof. Harsh V. Pant, of the Delhi-based think tank, the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), said that the border conflict could change the trajectory of Indo-Chinese relations.

“India will have to revaluate its China policy. Some fundamental changes will take place. But both sides would not like to escalate it

any more. I don’t think either of the sides want any war or conflict,” Pant told Arab News.


Boris Johnson, Sadiq Khan and Prince Charles lead tributes on 15th anniversary of London bombings

Updated 07 July 2020

Boris Johnson, Sadiq Khan and Prince Charles lead tributes on 15th anniversary of London bombings

  • As well as 52 fatalities, more than 700 people were injured in the attacks

LONDON: UK prime minister Boris Johnson led tributes on Tuesday to 52 victims of the July 7 bombings to mark the 15th anniversary of the terror attack in London.

Four suicide bombers struck three London Underground trains and a double-decker bus at sites across the British capital —  on the Circle Line near Aldgate and Edgware Road, the Piccadilly Line near Russell Square and Tavistock Square — in coordinated strikes in 2005.

As well as the 52 fatalities, more than 700 people were injured in the attacks.

In a video statement Johnson said: “No one who was in London on July 7, 2005, will ever forget what they experienced that day.

“And for those directly affected by what happened; the loved ones of the 52 victims; the hundreds who suffered physical injury, mental trauma; the emergency services and Tube staff who rushed to help and witnessed truly horrific scenes; the passage of time will have done little to numb the pain they feel. 

“While all such anniversaries are difficult, I know this one will be especially hard. At times like this, people want to be able to come together, to be together, to remember and to reflect together. But the ongoing pandemic means that can’t happen as it normally would.

“When this city was attacked by those who sought to divide us, London responded with the simple truth: That whoever you are, wherever you are from, whatever the colour of your skin or the God you worship, if you choose to come to London and make your life here, then you are a Londoner,” he added.

London’s mayor Sadiq Khan also paid tribute to the victims, survivors and the emergency services who responded to the attacks.

“Today we honour the 52 people who lost their lives and more than 700 who were injured on July 7, 2005. Our capital will never forget the terrible events of that day, and my thoughts are with all those whose lives were changed forever,” he said.

“As we mark 15 years since the attack on our city, I want again to pay tribute to the heroic efforts of our emergency services and transport workers, who ran towards danger to save lives, on that awful day.

“The way that our city responded and stood united in the aftermath of the attack showed the world that our values of decency, tolerance and mutual respect will always overcome the hate of the terrorists.

“Today, we reaffirm our commitment to upholding these values. To those who wish to divide us and spread hatred, we send a clear message that they will never succeed, and that we are stronger together,” he added.

Heir to the British throne Prince Charles also sent a video message of remembrance, saying: “That such dreadfully barbaric atrocities should be perpetrated on the streets of our capital was an assault on us all, and on everything we stand for as a nation.”

“For the victims, and for you, their loved ones, the horror of that day was total. 52 people were cruelly robbed of their lives, nearly 800 people were injured, families were torn apart, and the most unimaginable pain and grief was visited upon so many of you.

He added: “I can only begin to imagine, therefore, how agonising it must be for you that you are unable to gather today. It seems so desperately cruel that the pandemic should have denied you this occasion to see and to hold each other, and to be together as you mourn and remember.”