India does not believe in war but is prepared to face any challenge that arises before it, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in Arunachal Pradesh on Tuesday.

Singh made the statement while inaugurating a Border Roads Organisation bridge at the Boleng town in the Siang district. The remarks came nearly a month after a clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh.

The defence minister referred to a statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Russian President Vladimir Putin that the present era is not one of war. “Through this statement, the prime minister brought this resolve of the country to the attention of the world,” Singh said. “We do not believe in war. But if a war is forced on us, we are ready to face up to any challenge.”

The defence minister said that throughout its history, India never began a war and never captured even an inch of another country’s territory. “But if anyone mistakes our peace-loving nature as our weakness, I would like to assert that we worship not only peace, but also strength,” he said.

Singh said that in the context of a changing world and changing interests of countries, every nation needs to strengthen itself. “Conflicts of some or the other kind are being seen frequently around the world,” he said. “However, India has always been against war, and this has always been its policy.”

Singh said that the new bridge at Boleng will facilitate easier movement of local residents as well as troops. The 100-metre bridge has been built on the Aalo-Yingkiong road, which connects the West Siang and Upper Siang districts, PTI reported.

The defence minister also virtually inaugurated 27 other projects of the Border Roads Organisation on Tuesday.

Clashes along LAC

According to India’s defence ministry, Chinese soldiers attempted to change the status quo at the Line of Actual Control in the Tawang sector on December 9 by encroaching on the area, following which Indian troops retaliated.

Singh told Parliament on December 13 that the clash led to “minor injuries” to a few soldiers on both sides. After the face-off, both sides immediately disengaged from the area, he added.

On its part, China alleged that Indian troops illegally crossed a disputed border in the Tawang sector, leading to the scuffle.

This was the first such incident since the clash between Indian and Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh in June 2020.