GUWHATAI (Assam): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said that India would not hesitate to act against terrorists who target the country from across borders and to take bold decisions to protect the unity and integrity of the country.
Singh voiced the government’s unwavering commitment to strengthening the country’s security apparatus to deal with internal and external threats and said, “We have taken a firm stand to eliminate terrorism in all its forms and have protected our citizens from the menace.”
“If needed, we will eliminate terrorism emanating from across the border. The government does not and will not hesitate to take bold decisions to protect the unity and integrity of the country. We will not hesitate to act against terrorists by crossing borders if our country is targeted from outside. We have already given a message that we can deal with terrorism very strongly,” he said.
Attending a felicitation ceremony organized by the Assam government at Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra in Guwahati to honour the valour, dedication and sacrifice of the Bravehearts who fought the enemy and ensured victory in the 1971 war, the Defence Minister said that, the removal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from many areas of the North-East is the result of durable peace and stability in the region.
“Some people believe that the Indian Army does not want AFSPA to be removed. I want to say from this forum that the Army has a minimal role in internal security. The Army wants that the situation becomes completely normal in Jammu and Kashmir so that AFSPA can be removed from there as well,” he said.
The Defence Minister lauded the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) for strengthening the infrastructure in border areas, saying that all efforts are being made to bolster the far-flung areas from Arunachal Pradesh to Ladakh.
Talking about some of the BRO projects including the Atal Tunnel and the under-construction Sela Tunnel which, Rajnath Singh said, will provide all-weather connectivity to the far-flung areas and enhance the defence preparedness.
“We fulfilled the long-pending demand of One Rank One Pension as soon as we came to power. Under Digital India, many online services have been started, including Smart Canteen Card and Ex-Servicemen Identity Card. A Pension Grievance Portal is also functioning to address the issues of pensioners. Now, Havildars who retired before 2006 and got the rank of Honorary Naik Subedar are also getting the benefit of a revised pension. Orders were also given to revise the pension regulation of the three services in December 2020. We believe in taking care of our brave soldiers, not only while they are in service, but also after their retirement,” he said.
Talking about the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, the Defence Minister said that, earlier, India was counted amongst the defence importers, but today, India is ranked among the top 25 defence exporters of the world.
“In the last few years, we have increased our defence exports by about 334 per cent. We have set an export target of Rs 35,000 crore by 2024-25,” he added.
He further said that this decade will be known as the ‘Roaring Twenties’ in India’s defence manufacturing.
On the other hand, Assam Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma announced that his government has made efforts to recognize and compensate for the sacrifices made by our soldiers by way of offering Rs 50 lakh as ex-gratia, jobs for next of kin, 2 per cent job reservation in government jobs and reservation of seats for their wards in medical studies.
“We salute our war veterans and offer tributes to those who made supreme sacrifices in the 1971 India-Pakistan war. Today’s felicitation is an endeavour to recognize the contribution of soldiers from Assam in India’s victory in the war that liberation of Bangladesh,” Sarma said.
During the programme, the Defence Minister felicitated the veterans of the 1971 India-Pakistan war.
The state government had given Rs 10 lakh each to 9 war widows, Rs 5 lakh each to eight war casualties, Rs 2.5 each to two ex-prisoners of war and Rs 2 lakh each to 86 veterans.
Rajnath Singh also released a book ‘The Bravehearts of 1971’ at the programme.
Assam Governor Prof Jagdish Mukhi, Lt Col Quazi Sajjad Ali Zahir (Retd), a Bangladeshi veteran of the 1971 war who was awarded a Padma Shri, senior officials of the Indian Army, Assam Police, state government, ex-army personnel were also present during the felicitation ceremony. (ANI)