Our armed forces will give befitting reply to anyone: Rajnath

New Delhi: India has always been a peace-loving nation, but will not spare those with “ill intention or hostility”, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Monday, amid the lingering border row with China in eastern Ladakh and Pakistan’s support to cross-border terrorism.

On the eve of the 77th Independence Day, he also said the government is making all efforts to equip the armed forces with the latest weapons and training to meet future challenges.

“We not only seek peace but also express our commitment to peace through our actions. But at the same time, we are also very clear that if anyone dares to look at us with ill intention or hostility, our forces will give a befitting reply,” he said.

The defence minister made the remarks in a message to soldiers. The message was aired on All India Radio.

Highlighting the role of soldiers in maintaining India’s sovereignty, Singh said, the nation stands with its gallant soldiers who protect the borders by putting their lives at stake without bothering for their comforts and facilities.

“The armed forces can give their best only when they are provided with the best equipment and training. These steps boost the morale of the soldiers, help them overcome challenges and emerge victorious,” he said.

“Our government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is leaving no stone unturned to provide the military with world-class equipment and training, so that the country can overcome all future challenges,” he said.

Singh noted that new branches and trades are being created according to the new emerging needs.

The defence minister expressed the nation’s gratitude for the soldiers.

“On this occasion of 77th Independence Day, whether you are standing on the snowy peaks of Kargil where there is lack of oxygen…, whether you are in a submarine in the deep sea, whether you are standing in the hot desert of Thar, or whether you are standing in the middle of evergreen forests in the north-east of India, wherever you are, I want to say that you all reside in the hearts of 140 crore Indians,” he said.

The defence minister pointed out that the long-pending demand of the armed forces for the ‘One Rank One Pension’ scheme was fulfilled by the government as soon as it came to power in 2014.

“The scheme has been revised this year and an amount of Rs 8,413 crore has been paid to more than 17 lakh pensioners,” he said.

On the growing role of women in the armed forces, he said several concrete steps have been taken to make the military an equitable and a better working place for women.

“The Indian Army has inducted women officers into the artillery regiment for the first time this year. The commissioning of women officers in the artillery regiment is a great testimony to the steps being taken by our government towards gender equality in the Army,” Singh said.

“Our government has taken a historic step to get the talented daughters of the country admitted to Sainik Schools. Today, more than 1,600 girls are obtaining education in various Sainik Schools nationwide,” he said.

This would further increase the participation of brave daughters in the defence of the nation and they would achieve greater heights in the times to come,” he added. (Agencies)

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