Paying homage to the soldiers who laid down their lives during the 1999 Kargil War, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said that India is a peace-loving nation “but is ready to take any measures to defend its unity and sovereignty during a crisis”.
Releasing a video message on Twitter on Kargil Vijay Diwas, the anniversary of India’s victory over Pakistan in the Kargil War, Singh said, “Whatever we do for national security, we do it in self-defence, and not to attack… (However) if any enemy state has attacked us, then we have proven that like Kargil, we will give a befitting reply.”
Singh’s statement comes even as India is involved in a major military standoff with China in eastern Ladakh.
The Defence Minister said, “Kargil was not just a symbol of the nation’s self-respect, but it was and will remain a symbol of a big step towards the injustice.” Quoting then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Singh said that the action of the armed forces “proved that India will not bend in front of any external pressure, and also that we are a responsible nation.”
A soldier does not belong to any religion, class or caste, Singh said, but has the sole duty of service towards the nation. “I feel proud, that because of this commitment of our armed forces our country lives a secure and proud life,” he said.
Comparing the duties of each citizen to that of a soldier, Singh said, “If the soldiers are working to protecting the country on the borders, then it is our responsibility to maintain the unity, integrity and fraternity of the nation.”
Saluting the soldiers who had died during the war, Singh said he bowed to their families, “who despite losing their loved ones, remained steadfast in their support of the national resolve to drive out the enemies from our territory”.
The minister also said that he was grateful to those who “despite becoming disabled in battle, continue to serve the country in their own ways and have set examples worthy of emulation by the nation”.
Later writing in the visitor’s book at the War Memorial in New Delhi, Singh said, “I pay my obeisance and salutation to the brave soldiers of the Indian Armed Forces who sacrificed their lives to protect the motherland from the enemy.
“The country will always remember the courage, valour, restraint and determination of our fallen heroes and will march ahead taking inspiration from their supreme sacrifice.”
At the War Memorial, Singh was accompanied by Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, and the Army, Navy and Air Force chiefs.
Meanwhile, BJP president J P Nadda tweeted on the occasion, saying, “We exist because you are there. The country will never forget your valour, bravery and sacrifice.”
Also paying his tribute on the day, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “On the Kargil Vijay Diwas I pay tribute to the brave who sacrifice everything to defend the country.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines