Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, while referring to the "violent faceoff" with Chinese forces on the disputed Himalayan border that left 20 Indian soldiers dead, said India gave a "befitting response to those who eyed Indian territory".
“In Ladakh, a befitting reply has been given those coveting our territories," Modi was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.
"India knows how to maintain friendships but it can also look someone in the eye and retaliate, and give an apt reply,” Modi said during his monthly radio programme.
The Indian premier, however, did not mention China by name.
“Our brave soldiers have shown that they will not let any harm be done to Mother India’s pride. India bows to our brave martyrs. They have always kept India safe. Their valour will always be remembered,” said Modi as domestic pressure grows on the Indian government over what is being seen in India as a timid response to Beijing’s action.
Under an old agreement between the two nuclear-armed Asian giants, no shots are fired at the border, but there have been fisticuffs in recent years between border patrols.
According to Indian officials, soldiers were hit with clubs studded with nails and stones during the brawl that erupted on June 15 in the remote Galwan Valley, high in the mountains where India’s Ladakh region borders the Aksai Chin region captured by China during the 1962 war.
The rival armies have been eyeball-to-eyeball at their border for decades, but it was the worst clash since 1967, five years after China humiliated India in that war.
On Wednesday, both sides “agreed to resolve the existing situation peacefully” following talks through video conference under the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on border affairs.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Defence Ministry, in separate statements, has accused India of breaking the agreement of June 6, and claimed India had committed to not patrolling in the valley or building facilities there. The Defence Ministry said India “should bear full responsibility for the incident that was solely and completely triggered by its breach of consensus and unilateral provocations” and “demanded the Indian side severely punish those who should be held accountable, strictly discipline its front line troops so as to ensure that such incidents do not happen again".