DRAS — Remembering the valour of fallen soldiers during Operation Vijay, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday said that nobody musters the courage to raise their eyes towards India as the brave soldiers are protecting the borders and “if the need arises, will not hesitate to cross Line of Control (LoC).”
The Defence Minister also urged countrymen to be ready to support the soldiers in such a situation as war or conflict.
As per the news agency KNO, speaking at the event held to mark the 24th anniversary of Kargil Vijay Diwas and the martyrdom of 559 soldiers at Dras in Ladakh, the Defence Minister said that India has great respect for all other countries and also follows laid down norms for international conduct but “our generousness couldn’t be mistaken as our weakness.”
“Narendra Modi-led government is very clear and gave free hand to armed forces to launch operations across the border if the need arise,” the Defence Minister said.
Stating that Pakistan backstabbed India in 1999, but time has changed and “we are capable of launching any operation anywhere.”
“At that time (1999), if we did not cross the LoC, it does not mean that we were not able to cross it. We could have crossed the LoC, we can cross the LoC and will cross the LoC in future if needed,” Singh said, apparently referring to the situation after the ceasefire in 1999, when Pakistan Army abandoned its posts following befitting defeat in the war but then Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government asked forces not to cross LoC.
The Defence Minister said, “I salute those brave sons, who sacrificed everything for the protection of the motherland. I salute those brave sons who put the nation first and did not hesitate to sacrifice their lives for it.”
Assuring the people that the country is in safer hands, Singh said, “We know that as long as you (army) are protecting us on the borders, no one can even have the courage to raise their eyes towards India. Not only Kargil, but many times since independence till today, your (soldiers’) bravery has made the nation proud from time to time.”
The Defence Minister said that the greatness of “our country is not falling, but in getting up every time we fall.”
“Despite the adversary having tactical military advantage during the war, our forces displayed unmatched bravery and skill to push them back and reclaim our land. With the victory, India sent a message to Pakistan and the world that our military will not back down at any cost if the nation’s interests are harmed,” said Rajnath Singh.
The Raksha Mantri assured all that the government is fully committed to safeguarding national interests, no matter the challenge.
“No compromise will be made in protecting the sovereignty, unity and integrity of the country. We have given a free hand to the armed forces to eliminate the nation’s enemies. India is a peace-loving nation which believes in its centuries-old values and is committed towards international laws, but to safeguard our interests, we will not hesitate in crossing the LoC. Earlier, the nation and the armed forces lacked political will, which has now been provided by our government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. We stand firm with our forces. The people and Parliament have full faith in our soldiers,” he said.
Rajnath Singh recalled the heroic deeds of a number of brave hearts of the Kargil war, including Param Vir Chakra (PVC) Awardees Captain Vikram Batra & Captain Manoj Pandey and Vir Chakra (VrC) Awardees Lieutenant Colonel R Vishwanathan, Captain Jintu Gogoi, Captain Vijayant Thapar & Naib Subedar Mangej Singh, who are a source of inspiration for the future generations and will be remembered forever.
He made special mention of Flight Lieutenants Gunjan Saxena and Srividya Rajan who showcased exceptional courage during the war and spread the message that Indian women are no less than their male counterparts when it comes to securing the country’s borders.
He highlighted that all these soldiers belonged to different regions of India, but fought as one to protect the interests of the nation and its people.
Citing the example of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Raksha Mantri stated that the war, which has been continuing for last more than one year, reflects the unpredictable nature of conflicts in today’s times. He added that the war has been prolonged as the people are training and joining their military in fighting for their cause.
Rajnath Singh called upon the people to be ready to participate in wars not only indirectly but directly as well if ever the need arises. “People should be mentally prepared so that whenever the nation needs them, they should be ready to help the armed forces. Just as every soldier is an Indian; in the same way, every Indian should be ready to play the role of a soldier,” he said.
Earlier, the nation paid rich tributes to the brave soldiers of the 1999 Kargil War on the 24th anniversary of India’s historic victory, which is celebrated as ‘Kargil Vijay Diwas’ on 26th July every year. To mark the day, Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh today visited the Kargil War Memorial at Dras in Ladakh, laid a wreath and paid homage to the valiant soldiers who displayed unparalleled bravery during ‘Operation Vijay’.
The ceremony at Dras also witnessed a gathering of war heroes, Veer Naris and the families of the fallen heroes. Rajnath Singh interacted with them and extended heartfelt gratitude while recalling all those who made the supreme sacrifice in the service of the nation.
Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh Brigadier (Dr) BD Mishra (Retd), Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan, Chief of the Army Staff General Manoj Pande, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, former Army Chief General VP Malik (Retd), General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Northern Command Lieutenant General Upendra Dwivedi, General Officer Commanding, 14 Corps Lieutenant General Rashim Bali, Lieutenant General YK Joshi (Retd) and Lieutenant General Amarnath Aul (Retd) attended the ceremony.
The presence of Subedar Major Sanjay Kumar, a true example of courage and determination and recipient of PVC and Havildar Digendra Kumar, Maha Vir Chakra inspired the gathering. Manmohan Pandey, brother of Captain Manoj Pandey, PVC and Vishal Batra, brother of Captain Vikram Batra, PVC also graced the occasion.