Ahead of Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Abhinandan Varthaman’s return to India from Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said every Indian is proud to know that the Wing Commander hails from Tamil Nadu. “It makes every Indian proud that the brave Wing Commander Abhinandan hails from Tamil Nadu,” Modi said while addressing an election rally in Kanyakumari.
I am proud that India’s first woman Defence Minister is from Tamil Nadu.
It makes every Indian proud that the brave Wing Commander Abhinandan hails from Tamil Nadu: PM
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) March 1, 2019
The prime minister’s remarks came a day after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced that captured IAF pilot Abhinandan would be released today as a “gesture of peace”. The release is being viewed as first signs of de-escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan a day after both countries downed a fighter each.
Speaking on the menace of terrorism, the prime minister asserted that “India will no longer be helpless” in such situations. “From 2004 to 2014 there were several terror attacks. The nation expected perpetrators to be punished but nothing happened,” he said.
Referring to the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Modi said no action was initiated against the perpetrators by Pakistan. “26/11 happened, India expected action against terrorists but nothing happened. Uri happened and you saw what our brave men did. Pulwama happened and you saw what our brave men did. I salute all those who are serving the nation. Their vigilance keeps our nation secure,” he told the crowd.
The Prime Minister also said that India has reduced the “influence of terrorists and terrorism” and is determined to “curtail it even more”. “This is a New India. This is an India that will return the damage done by terrorists with interest,” he said.
Taking a jibe at the former UPA government, PM Modi said, “There was a time when the news reports would read- Air Force wanted to do surgical strike after 26/11 but UPA blocked it. Today, we are in an era where the news reads- Armed forces have full freedom to do what they want.”
Modi then went on to hit out at the Opposition for ‘politicising’ the operations carried out by the armed forces. “Sadly, a few parties, guided by Modi hatred, have started hating India. No wonder, while the entire nation supports our armed forces, they suspect the armed forces. The world is supporting India’s fight against terror but a few parties suspect our fight against terror,” he said.
“These are the same people whose statements are helping Pakistan and harming India. They are the same people whose statements are being happily quoted in Parliament of Pakistan and in the radio of Pakistan. I want to ask them- do you support our armed forces or suspect them?”
Seeking clarification from the Opposition on whether they “believe our armed forces or they believe those forces who support terrorism on our soil”, Modi said, “I want to tell them- Modi will come and go, India will remain. Please stop weakening India to strengthen your own politics.”
The prime minister, who arrived in the town to flag off the Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express besides inaugurating a number of welfare projects, said, “I have flagged off the fastest train, Tejas, between Madurai and Chennai. This is one of the most modern trains and is a great example of ‘Make in India’ having been manufactured in the Integral Coach Factory of Chennai itself.”