NEW DELHI: India does not believe in war but has every capability to face any challenge and protect its territory, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Tuesday, in a veiled message to China, three weeks after Indian Army thwarted a transgression bid by Chinese PLA in the Tawang sector. The defence minister also dedicated 28 border infrastructure projects in Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and four other states and Union Territories, and asserted that India has every capability to counter challenges along the border.
Dedicated to the nation 28 BRO infrastructure projects worth Rs 724 crore, in 7 border States/UTs during an event in Arunachal Pradesh.
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) January 3, 2023
”India is a country which never encourages war and always wants to maintain cordial relations with its neighbours…This is our philosophy inherited from Lord Rama and from the teachings of Lord Buddha. The country has every capability to face any kind of situation if provoked,” he said.
”The Indian Army has the capability to face any challenge along the border,” Singh said during an event held at the Siyom bridge on the Along-Yingkiong road here.
It was the defence minister’s first visit to the border state after the Indian and Chinese troops were engaged in a clash along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at Yangtse in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh on December 9.
The defence minister also referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that ‘this is not the era of war’.
”The world is witnessing a number of conflicts today. India has always been against war. It is our policy. Recently, Prime Minister Modi drew the world’s attention to that resolve when he said ‘this is not the era of war’,” Singh said.
”We do not believe in war, but if it is forced upon us, we will fight. We are ensuring that the nation is protected from all threats. Our armed forces are ready and it is heartening to see that the BRO (Border Roads Organisation) is walking shoulder-to-shoulder with them,” he said.
In his address, Singh also made an indirect reference to the Chinese PLA’s attempts at transgressions along the LAC.
”Recently, our forces effectively countered the adversary in the Northern sector and dealt with the situation with bravery and promptness. This was made possible due to adequate infrastructural development in the region. This motivates us even more for the progress of far-flung areas,” he said.
The defence minister also highlighted the government’s priority on infrastructure development.
”Be it Demchowk or DS-Daulat-Beg-Oldi sector, the pace of development of roads in Ladakh is unprecedented. Earlier at Demchok, people had to use horses and mules to cross the pass. But today they can travel by any vehicle,” he said.
There has been a fresh spike in tensions between India and China after troops from the two sides were engaged in a clash along the LAC at Yangtse.
Singh said in Parliament on December 13 that the Chinese troops tried to ”unilaterally” change the status quo in the Yangtse area but the Indian Army compelled them to retreat by its firm and resolute response.
At the event, Singh inaugurated the strategically-important Siyom Bridge, while the other projects were dedicated virtually. The bridge is a state-of-the-art 100-meter-long steel arch superstructure.
The defence minister described the projects as a testament to the concerted efforts of the government and the BRO towards the development of border areas to enhance the operational preparedness of the armed forces and ensure the socio-economic development of the far-flung regions. The projects comprised 22 bridges including the Siyom bridge, three roads and three other projects. Eight of these projects are in Ladakh, five in Arunachal Pradesh, four in Jammu and Kashmir, three each in Sikkim, Punjab and Uttarakhand and two in Rajasthan, according to the defence ministry. Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Pema Khandu said the Union government is committed to bringing development in border areas of the Himalayan belt.
”In the last eight years, infrastructure development in Arunachal Pradesh, especially in the connectivity sector, has immensely helped the state,” Khandu said. The northeastern region witnessed the construction of 10,000 km of roads since 2014 after the BJP-led coalition came to power at the Centre, the CM claimed.
Apart from the infrastructure projects, Singh also inaugurated three telemedicine nodes, two in Ladakh and one in Mizoram.
The defence minister asserted that it is the top priority of the Modi government to connect the border areas and ensure the development of its residents.
Singh also highlighted the crucial role played by the BRO in bolstering India’s security through infrastructure development in border areas. Terming infrastructure development as a game changer for the people residing in border areas, Singh lauded the BRO for ensuring socio-economic development in far-flung regions. He stressed that the government is paying special attention to the development of the North-Eastern region, which has strengthened the country’s security system. For the BRO’s relentless efforts to support the armed forces and the local people, he also coined a new phrase ”BRO is the nation’s bro (brother)”. Quoting a famous phrase ‘It’s not the destination, it’s the journey’, he said the construction of road infrastructure in border areas is a journey for BRO and a strong and prosperous India should be its destination.
With the inauguration of these 28 projects, which were completed in 2022, a total of 103 infrastructure projects of BRO have been dedicated to the nation in the year at a total cost of Rs 2,897 crore. In October last year, 75 projects, worth Rs 2,173 crore, were inaugurated by Singh from Shyok village in Ladakh. In 2021, 102 such projects built by the BRO at a cost of Rs 2,229 crore were dedicated to the nation by Singh.
Press Trust of India