New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday (June 17) assured the country that the sacrifice of the Indian soldiers who died at Galwan Valley in a “violent clash” with Chinese soldiers will not go in vain.  He added that India wants peace but is capable of giving a befitting reply, if instigated.

In his opening remarks on day two of the virtual conference with chief ministers on the coronavirus (COVID-19), PM Modi said, “I would like to assure the nation that the sacrifice of our jawans will not go in vain. For us, the unity and sovereignty of the country is most important. India wants peace but it is capable of giving a befitting reply if instigated. Let there be no doubt in anyone’s mind in that respect.”

PM Modi said India has always tried that differences do not become disputes. Later, the prime minister and those attending the meeting observed silence of a few minutes as a mark of respect for the slain soldiers.

The Indian Army said three personnel had laid down their lives. Later on Tuesday (June 16), it said 17 more soldiers “were critically injured in the line of duty at the standoff location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain have succumbed to their injuries, taking the total that were killed in action to 20.”

Earlier, defence minister Rajnath Singh said, “The loss of soldiers in Galwan is deeply disturbing and painful. Our soldiers displayed exemplary courage and valour in the line of duty and sacrificed their lives in the highest traditions of the Indian Army.”

He added, “The Nation will never forget their bravery and sacrifice. My heart goes out to the families of the fallen soldiers. The nation stands shoulder to shoulder with them in this difficult hour. We are proud of the bravery and courage of India’s bravehearts.”