NOVEMBER 14, 2020
CONVEYING the nation’s Diwali greetings to soldiers standing vigil at its borders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday said that India will give a “fierce reply” if it is tested by its enemies. And, in a veiled reference to China, he said India has become a strong global voice against expansionism.
As part of his annual tradition of joining soldiers at forward posts each Diwali, Modi visited the iconic Longewala Post in Rajasthan and later the Jaisalmer Air Force Base.
Addressing troops in Longewala – where India had thwarted a larger Pakistani force in 1971 — and later in Jaisalmer, Modi outlined what he called India’s “clear” strategy: “Today’s India believes in the policy of understanding and making others understand, but if we are tested, the reply is equally fierce”.
The country, he added, has the capability and political will to give a befitting response to those who challenge it.
Without naming China, Modi said that the “the whole world is troubled by expansionist forces today”. “Expansionism is, in a way, a mental disorder and reflects 18th century thinking. India is also becoming a strong voice against this thinking.”
“Nothing in the world can stop our brave soldiers from protecting the border of the country,” the Prime Minister said.
These remarks come a day after four Indian soldiers, a BSF jawan and at least four civilians were killed in an “unprovoked ceasefire violation” by Pakistan along the Line of Control. At least “six to eight” Pak soldiers were killed in retaliatory fire by India.
Modi said that “whenever someone casts a wrongful eye towards us, then passion with which they are given the response in their own language” is the “strength of our force” and added that this has made “Indian forces more dependable in the world”.
India’s increased stature in the world, Modi said, “is due to your power and your might,” and added “you have secured the country, that’s why India today speaks vigorously on the global forums”. He said history “tells us that only those nations have remained safe, only those nations have moved forward, which had the ability to take on the invaders”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi rides a tank during his visit to strategic Longewala post in Jaisalmer, Saturday, 14, 2020. PM Modi is celebrating the Diwali festival with security forces jawans posted in border areas. (PTI Photo)
And even with international cooperation, he said, the country needs to be strong to defend itself. “No matter how far international cooperation has come, equations may have changed, but we can never forget that, vigilance is the way to safety, awareness is the support of happiness, strength is the belief of victory, and competence is the prize of peace”.
Every year, I cherish spending Diwali with our security forces. It is a way of reaffirming our solidarity with them, as they bravely protect the nation and ensure our country can scale new heights of progress.
Here are some glimpses from Longewala today. pic.twitter.com/hhtj4S7Gyp
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 14, 2020
The world knows this, he said, and understands “that this country is not going to compromise its interests even at any cost.”
Commending the commitment of the soldiers, Modi said that “be it the peaks of the Himalayas, the expanse of the desert, the dense forest or the depth of the sea, your valour has always overpowered on every challenge”.
He flagged the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic was not allowed to impact the operational preparedness of the forces.
Indeed, it was during the pandemic, he said, that the force saw the delivery and induction of new weapons at a rapid pace – the Rafale jets along with a Tejas squadron, Apache and Chinook helicopters and submarines.
He also highlighted that during the same period multiple missiles have been successfully tested and said that “the successful test of the Hypersonic Demonstrator Vehicle has put India among the top three-four countries”.
“Several missiles, whether launched from land, water or air, that have been tested have created an invisible wall of security in the Indian sky,” he said.
Significantly, on the ground as well, he said, “mega infrastructure projects” for connectivity at the borders were also completed, the showpiece being the Atal Tunnel for Ladakh.
“Dozens of long roads on our northern and western borders have also been completed during this time,” he said, especially when “the entire world is in chaos and everyone is troubled about their lives, working determinedly during such a situation you have won the hearts of the country”.
On reforms in defence manufacturing, he cited the Atmanirbhar Bharat project to reduce dependence on foreign companies, and stated that “to increase synergy between all three forces, and for quicker decision-making… we brought the concept of the Chief of Defence Staff.”
“I have brought the greetings of every Indian to you today,” he told the soldiers. “You may be on snow-capped mountains or in deserts, but my Diwali is complete only when I celebrate with you. My happiness doubles when I look at the joy on your faces.”
He said that the “sacrifice you make while staying at the border and the austerity, creates a trust in the country” and creates the belief that “together the biggest challenge can be overcome”.
He said it was the soldiers’ commitment that had inspired the country to protect the lives of every citizen during the pandemic.
At the BSF post, he recalled the battle of Longewala as one of exemplary coordination between the three services. He said it was during the 1971 war that Pakistan was exposed, as its army had terrorized citizens of Bangladesh and committed atrocities against women.
Regarding the cross-fire on the LoC Friday, the Army said that Pakistan initiated “unprovoked ceasefire violations” in Dawar, Keran, Uri and Naugam and “deliberately targeted” civilian areas with “mortars and other weapons”.
Sources said firing from Pakistan began after the Army had “eliminated infiltration attempts in the Keran sector” Friday morning.
The soldiers who lost their lives were Gunner Subodh Ghosh; Havildar Hardhan Chandra; Naik Satni Bhushan Rameshra; and Sepoy Jandhole Rushilrash Ram Chandra. The BSF jawan killed was Sub Inspector Rakesh Doval.