UNDERLINING the bravery shown by India’s armed forces, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that the Army will never forgive the nation “if we fall asleep when we should be awake”. Addressing a rally in Bhopal before dedicating the Shaurya Smarak, a war memorial, to the nation, Modi said, “Sena bolti nahin, sena parakram karti hai (The Army does not speak but acts).’’ He said that like the Army, the country’s “Defence Minister (Manohar Parrikar), also does not talk but acts’’.
The Prime Minister’s comments come nearly two weeks after India announced that it had conducted surgical strikes at terrorist launch pads along the Line of Control (LoC). Without referring to the strikes, Modi said, “Sena ke jawan kisliye apni jawani khapa dete, ki hum chain ki neend so sakein. Mere desh ki sena ko hum chain ki neend se so jaye, usse sarvadhik khushi milti hai. Hum chain ki neend se so jaye usse santosh hota hai. Hamare sone par usko shikayat nahin hoti, lekin jaagne ke wakt bhi so jaye to sena kabhi maaf nahin karti hai, aur durbhagya yeh hai kabhi kabhi hum jaagne ke samay bhi so jaate hain (Why do soldiers give up their youth? So that we can sleep peacefully. That gives the greatest joy, satisfaction to my country’s Army. Our slumber is never its complaint. But if we fall asleep when we should be awake, the army does not forgive. It is unfortunate that at times we fall asleep when we should be awake).”
“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty… sirf sena jaagti rahe yeh to sena ke saath anyay hoga, hamein bhi jaagne ke samay jaagna hoga (It would be an injustice to them if only the Army stayed awake, we have to stay awake too when it’s time to do so),” he said.
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With the gathering comprising ex-servicemen and their families, the Prime Minister lashed out at critics, saying “Roz mere bal nochte rehte the, Modi so raha hai, Modi kuch nahi kar raha (They used to attack me every day, saying that I was sleeping, not doing anything).”
In his 40-minute speech, Modi also hailed the armed forces for their humanitarian and peace-keeping work, and said the world should be repeatedly reminded of this. There were several faces to a soldier and the people should give them due respect “not just at the time of war but throughout, even when they travel on planes or trains”, he said.
Referring to rescue operations conducted by the Army during the Srinagar floods, Modi said that the forces were ready to give their lives at the time. “Kabhi unhone nahi socha yoga yeh veh log hai jo kabhi patthar marte hain, ankhein phodte hain, sar phodte hain. Kabhi patthar ka hamla itna tej hota hai ki maut aati hai (They never thought that these are those people who sometimes throw stones, blind eyes, break heads. Sometimes the attack with stones would lead to deaths).”
Accusing previous governments of only talking about One-Rank-One-Pension, and not proceeding despite making budgetary allocations of “Rs 200 crore to Rs 500 crore’’, Modi said his government had implemented this long-standing demand of the armed forces. He said an amount of Rs 5500 crore has already been deposited in the bank accounts of beneficiaries.
The Prime Minister said that India’s contribution to peacekeeping activity in the world was more than any other nation. “It’s possible not because of weapons but due to their conduct, morality and behaviour that have helped them win the world over,’’ he said.
Referring to the successful evacuation operation in strife-torn Yemen, Modi said the armed forces rescued not just 5,000 Indians but also foreigners, including Pakistani nationals. “We think of these facets of the armed forces only occasionally but remember them for protecting the border from bullets or bombs and weigh their power only on that scale,’’ he said.
The Prime Minister said that India has never fought a battle for land or for subjugation, or attacked anyone but “when it comes to values or question of life and death it has never backed out’’. Modi said neither of the two world wars was started by India but nearly 1.5 lakh Indian soldiers lost their lives. “The entire world is forgetting this and unfortunately, we also forget it. We should remind the world repeatedly about it (our sacrifice). Mahatma Gandhi and Buddha were born from this tradition.’’
Defence Minister Parrikar, too, did not refer to the “surgical strikes” but said that the memorial was being dedicated to the nation in the wake of an example of bravery displayed by the armed forces on September 29 while defending the nation.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced an honorarium of Rs 5000 per month to the parents of martyrs, and allotment of land to the Army Welfare Housing Association for the benefit of ex-servicemen.