Inaugurating an event to mark the second anniversary of the surgical strikes across the LoC, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said that the armed forces had “adequately punished” those wanting to spread terror and proved to the world that India will not tolerate terrorists.
“Indian armed forces proved to this world that there is a very clear way in which we will show our strength to say that we shall not tolerate terrorists coming in the garb of intruders and creating havoc at our borders or at least hoping to create,” Sitharaman said at the inauguration of the three-day event at Boat Club opposite India Gate. She added that the armed forces had shown that for the “cowardly” act of attacking sleeping soldiers at Uri, “India shall not sit and watch the whole thing”, and “proved” to them that such acts “shall not go unpunished”. All the terrorists pads, she said, were cleared “and those who were wanting to spread terror have been adequately punished”.
The minister said she had come straight from Jodhpur, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid his respects at the Martyrs Memorial “to mark today as the beginning of Parakram Parv”.
Earlier in the day, speaking to journalists on the sidelines of another event, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore said that “it doesn’t come as a surprise that the military valour has never been celebrated” earlier. He said that the members of the Indian armed forces “are not fighting for their salary”. They are fighting, he said, “for the respect that they command” from their compatriots.
“We need to respect them, whether they are operating in a war-like situation or in peace. And we need to create such a situation that many more young people and citizens of the country are aligned with what the military is doing because finally they give up their lives for us,” the minister said.
When asked why these strikes are bring celebrated, as the Army has been involved in covert operations earlier too, Rathore, a retired colonel, said that it is “debatable” if the Army has executed such an operation earlier. “Let’s not even get into that,” he said, “because operationally there’s no record of Army crossing the border [at] any time, other than the war.”
The Indian Army, Navy and Air Force have put up stalls at the India Gate event. The Air Force’s presence was registered by a stall distributing posters and information booklets about it. Next to it, the Navy had a larger stall, with replicas of its vessels, aircraft and submarines. On the opposite side of Rajpath, which cuts through the fair, the Army had the largest presence. Bofors and anti-aircraft guns welcomed visitors while another major attraction was the artillery, with soldiers and officers explaining their use to visitors. One stall showcased equipment captured by the Army during operations in 2017 and 2018.