Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday said that the “pain” of the killing of soldiers on the border “cannot be put in words”, referring to the death of 20 soldiers during a clash with the Chinese Army along the Line of Actual Control in Galwan Valley earlier this week. However, Shah did not mention China by name.

“The pain of losing our brave soldiers while protecting our motherland at Ladakh’s Galwan can not be put in words,” Shah tweeted. “Nation salutes our immortal heroes who sacrificed their lives to keep Indian territory safe and secure. Their bravery reflects India’s commitment towards her land.”

The home minister also said that India will always remain indebted to the soldiers for the sacrifice of their lives. “I bow to the families, who have blessed Indian Army with such great heroes,” Shah said. He added that the government stood with the families of the deceased, and wished the injured soldiers a speedy recovery.

Earlier in the day, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that the loss of soldiers was “deeply disturbing and painful”. This was the first comment by a Cabinet minister in the government after Monday’s incident.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi attacked Singh, accusing him of insulting the Indian Army by not mentioning China in his tweets. He also asked why Singh took two days to offer condolences, and why he was attending political rallies even as Indian soldiers were dying.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a meeting with chief ministers of 15 states and Union Territories most affected by the coronavirus, said that the sacrifice of the soldiers will not go in vain. “India wants peace but is capable of giving befitting reply, if instigated,” Modi said. “The nation must be proud of its warriors who laid down their lives while killing enemies.”

This is the first instance of casualties on the Line of Actual Control since 1975. It came amidst a “de-escalation” process in the Galwan area that was started last week, after a month-long standoff between troops at several points along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh and Sikkim. Though some reports have said that around 40 Chinese soldiers died during these clashes, there is no official confirmation yet.

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