In an implied message to China, Prime Minister Narendera Modi on Friday asserted that the “era of expansionism is over and the world has moved on the path of development”.

Modi, in a surprise move, this morning landed at Leh to take stock of the situation amidst the prolonged standoff between the Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh.

Addressing the soldiers of the Army, IAF, ITBP and BRO at the 11,000 ft high Nimu, Modi in a veiled message to China asserted; “The era of expansionism is over, this is the age of development. History has witnessed that expansionist forces have either lost or were forced to turn back. It’s not the weak but the brave who can initiate peace”.

The expansionist forces have ruined the world in the last century. But they have either been defeated or forgotten in history,” the PM said.

This was Modi’s first visit to Ladakh after the 15 June violent clashes between troops of the two countries. Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and Army chief MM Naravane accompanied the PM. Modi also visited the military hospital where he met the soldiers who were injured during the faceoff with Chinese troops.

Modi’s visit has come as a morale booster for the armed forces and a powerful message to China, which has shown unrelenting aggression at the LAC with incursions. His visit came a day after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh called off his own visit to Ladakh.

Before his address to the troops, Modi was briefed about the developments at the Galwan valley, Pangong Lake, Demchok and Hotsprings by the Corps Commander, Lt. General Harinder Singh, who led the Indian delegation in the three rounds of talks with the Chinese Army.

In his address, Modi lauded the dedication of the armed forces with which they are protecting the motherland. “India is proud of the courage of our armed forces and their willpower is as firm as the mountains where they are posted. The Prime Minister also paid tributes to the soldiers martyred in the Galwan valley clash. He said, “your dedication to the protection of motherland is matchless. The conditions in which you are protecting and serving India, nobody in the world can compete with that. The bravery that you and your compatriots showed, a message has gone to the world about India’s strength. Your courage is higher than the heights where you are posted today.”

“Those who are weak can never initiate peace, bravery is a prerequisite for peace. Whether world wars or peace, whenever the need arises, the world has seen the victory of our braves and their efforts towards peace. We have worked for the betterment of humanity,” he said.

Modi said, “We are the same people who pray to the flute playing Lord Krishna but we are also the same people who idolize and follow the same Lord Krishna who carries the Sudarshana Chakra”.

“The bravery of the Ladakh based 14 Corps will be talked about everywhere. Tales of your bravery and valour are echoing in every household in the country,” he said. Mentioning his Atmanirbhar Bharat call which he induced during the lockdown, PM Modi said, “your sacrifice and efforts have strengthened the commitment of Atmanirbhar Bharat.

“Whenever I think of a decision based on national security, I think of two mothers. The first is our Mother India and the second is mothers who’ve given birth to brave hearts like you,” Modi added.