Saying he would take “proactive steps” to meet any threat to the country, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar Thursday said “you have to neutralise terrorist through terrorist only”.
To make his point, he quoted a Hindi saying “kaante se kaanta nikaalte hain” (you have to extract a thorn with a thorn) and said: “Why can’t we do it? We should do it. Why my soldier has to do it all the time?”
Responding to a question at Manthan Aaj Tak in New Delhi, Parrikar said: “If any country, why Pakistan, is planning something against my country, I will take proactive steps. Of course, not in the public domain. But what I have to do, I will do it. Whether it is diplomatic, whether it is pressure tactics or whether it is using the… woh usko bolte hain na Marathi mein kaante se kaanta nikaalte hain… Hindi mein bhi rahega… you have to neutralise terrorist through terrorist only.”
He said this government is different from the previous one because it has given the Army a free hand to tackle terrorists through intelligence.
“Many attempts have been foiled and many neutralisations have taken place… if you see, recent incidents… Army knew about the hideout of the terrorists, they took them on at the place of their hiding… Security forces go by the guarantee of the government standing by them… and I can tell as a Defence Minister, I stand by the Army at any cost.”
He said the Army has been given standing instructions to shoot armed infiltrators, ensure minimum collateral damage and no loss of life of its own.
“Do not allow loss of life from our side. But take precautions that you do not make collateral damage… woh precaution lena hi hai (we have to take that precaution). You don’t touch civilians, unarmed. But if some one (is) with arms, shoot him… The instruction has a further line: do not allow loss of life from our side as far as possible. Use whatever equipment, people from our side,” he said, referring to incidents in which Army men have been killed while fighting terrorists.
He also spoke on the New Year day incident involving a Pakistani boat off Porbandar. “I took the flak (over the incident). I could have said that the Coast Guard may have done something wrong. No, they did not. I inquired everything, but I realised that they did not do anything wrong and followed the SOP (standard operating procedure). They should not be made to suffer. May be some people quoted Karachi sources. I am surprised. How can you quote Karachi for a defence matter of India?”
The Indian Express had reported that there were doubts on the Coast Guard claim of an explosion on board the boat. Later, a Board of Inquiry indicted Coast Guard DIG B K Loshali for his remark on February 16 that he had ordered the Pakistani boat to be “blown off” on the night of December 31-January 1.