In a veiled dig at China over the border standoff in Ladakh, President Ram Nath Kovind said on Monday that India faced ‘an expansionist move” on its borders which was foiled by the country’s valiant soldiers and said 20 of them laid their lives in the violent clash in Galwan Valley.

In his address to the nation on the eve of 72nd Republic Day, the President said India is committed to peace but its forces are adequately mobilised in a well-coordinated move to thwart any attempt to undermine security and national interest will be protected at all costs.

“The past year was a time of adversity, and it came from many fronts. We faced an expansionist move on our borders, but our valiant soldiers foiled it. To achieve this objective, 20 of them had to lay down their lives; he said.

“The nation shall remain grateful to those brave soldiers. Though we reiterate our commitment to peace, our defence forces – Army, Air Force and Navy – are adequately mobilised in a well-coordinated move to thwart any attempt to undermine our security. Our national interest will be protected at all costs. We have also ensured a widespread understanding in the international community of India’s firm and principled stand; he added.

India and China are in a standoff in eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) following actions by the Chinese army. Twenty Indian soldiers laid down their lives and an unspecified number of Chinese soldiers were killed in a clash in Galwan Valley in June last year.

The President said that soldiers of the armed forces ensure security of our national boundaries amid severest conditions including in Galwan Valley and Siachen.

“Just as our hardworking farmers ensure food security for the country, the brave soldiers of the armed forces ensure security of our national boundaries amid severest conditions. From the freezing cold at Siachen and Galwan valley in Ladakh with temperatures as low as minus 50 to 60 degree Celsius to the scorching heat in Jaisalmer with temperatures as high as 50 degree Celsius – on land, in the skies and at the vast coastal areas – our warriors are vigilant every moment,” he said.

“Every citizen feels proud about the bravery, patriotism and the spirit of sacrifice among our soldiers,” he added. (ANI)