Nowshera (Rajouri): Asserting that modern border infrastructure will enhance the country’s military capabilities, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that in a departure from earlier times, connectivity has been established in border and coastal areas, from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh and from Jaisalmer to Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Addressing soldiers on the occasion of Diwali at Nowshera sector in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district, Modi lauded the role played by the brigade here in the 2016 surgical strikes on militant launchpads across the LoC, and asserted that even though innumerable attempts were made after the strikes to disturb peace in the region, every time militancy was given a befitting reply.
He also asserted that India must enhance its military capabilities in line with the changing world and modes of war, and noted that modern border infrastructure has been built to augment connectivity and troop deployment.
Hailing the valour of the soldiers, Modi said they were the ‘suraksha kawach’ (protective shield) of ‘Maa Bharti’ (mother India) and it was because of them that people of the country can sleep peacefully and there is happiness during festivals.
Hailing the role of the brigade here in the 2016 operation, Modi said their role fills the people of the country with pride. “I will always remember that day as it was decided that all soldiers should return before sunset and I was waiting anxiously for the call to know if all my jawans had returned,” he said.
Without any casualties, all the bravehearts returned after their accomplishment, Modi said. After the surgical strikes, innumerable attempts were made to disturb peace in the region and attempts are still being made, but every time militancy has been given a “befitting reply”, the prime minister said.
India had conducted surgical strikes on September 29, 2016, on militant launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) as a response to a militant attack on an Army base in the Uri sector of North Kashmir.
Modi said the responsibility of protecting the freedom of the country vests with everyone and today’s India, in the Amrit Kaal of freedom, is aware of its capabilities and resources.
He also underlined the importance of the growing ‘Atmanirbharta’ (self-reliance) in defence resources as opposed to the earlier period of dependence on foreign countries and the long time taken for defence procurements.
He said 65 per cent of the defence budget is being used inside the country and noted that a list of 200 products that will be procured only indigenously has been prepared. The list is going to be expanded soon, he said.
Modi also talked about the seven new defence companies launched on Vijaya Dashmi and noted that defence corridors are also coming up. He also highlighted that India’s youth are involved in vibrant defence related startups. All this will strengthen India’s position as a defence exporter, he added.
Modi asserted that modern border infrastructure will enhance the country’s military capabilities. How work was done with regard to connectivity of border areas is known to people, he said.
“Today, connectivity in border and coastal areas from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, from Jaisalmer to Andaman Nicobar (Islands) has been established,” he said.
In the border and coastal areas where normal connectivity was lacking, a network of roads, tunnels and optical fibres is being established, leading to unprecedented improvement in troop deployment capability and convenience for soldiers. Hailing the brigade here, Modi said the region has stood strongly against aggressors and encroachers.
Talking about his meetings with soldiers on Diwali, Modi said everyone wants to celebrate the festival with their family and that he had not come here as a prime minister but as a family member.
Sharing a few pictures of his visit, Modi later tweeted, “I feel privileged that I got to spend Diwali with our brave soldiers in Nowshera, not as Prime Minister but as a member of their family. Here are some glimpses.”
“Our armed forces represent India’s diversity and the collective spirit of 130 crore Indians. Our forces are not only known for their utmost professionalism but also they are at the forefront helping people in times of crisis. Our forces are synonymous with trust,” he added.
He earlier said the fast-changing technology landscape has demanded new changes and that is why it was critical to ensure coordination in the integrated military leadership.
The Chief of Defence Staff and the Department of Military Affairs are steps in that direction, he said.
The PM expressed happiness that the participation of women in the defence sector is touching new heights. After being deployed on the frontlines in Navy and Air Force, now women’s role is being expanded in the Army also, he noted.
Along with opening up permanent commission, NDA, National Military School, National Indian Military College for women, he also recalled his Independence Day announcement of opening up Sainik Schools for girls.
Modi said in the armed forces, he not only sees boundless capabilities but also unwavering service spirit, strong determination and incomparable sensitivity.
This makes the Indian armed forces unique in the world, he said.
“Empires come and go but India was eternal thousands of years ago, remains so today and will remain eternal thousands of years later. We don’t perceive the nation as government, power or empire. For us, it is living, present soul, defending this is not limited to defending just the geographical boundaries. For us national defence means defending this living national vibrancy, national unity, and national integration,” he said.
“I am sure that with the inspiration of your bravery, we will take our India to the greatest of heights,” Modi told the soldiers.