Raksha Mantri felicitates families of the fallen heroes of the Armed Forces at an event in Badoli, HP

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Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh, on September 26, 2022, felicitated the families of the brave soldiers of the Armed Forces, hailing from Himachal Pradesh, who laid down their lives in the service of the Nation. The felicitation ceremony was organised at Badoli in Kangra district of the state. The Raksha Mantri paid glowing tributes to the war heroes, including the first recipient of Param Vir Chakra Major Somnath Sharma (1947); Brigadier Sher Jung Thapa, Maha Vir Chakra (1948); Lt Col Dhan Singh Thapa, PVC (1962); Captain Vikram Batra, PVC (1999) and Subedar Major Sanjay Kumar, PVC (1999), whose names are etched in the hearts of every Indian for their unmatched bravery and sacrifice.

Shri Rajnath Singh paid respects to the families of the war heroes, stating that the country will forever be indebted to the sacrifices made by the valiant soldiers. He stated that the Armed Forces will always be a source of inspiration to the people, especially the youth, as they possess the traits of discipline, devotion to duty, patriotism & sacrifice and are a symbol of national pride & trust. “Background, religion and creed don’t matter, what matters is that our beloved tri-colour continues to fly high,” he said.

The Raksha Mantri asserted that India is the only country which has given the message of peace to the whole world and its military is respected across the globe for its bravery. While maintaining that India has never attacked any country, nor has it captured an inch of foreign land, he assured the Nation that if any attempt is ever made to disturb the harmony in India, a befitting reply will be given. “India is a peace-loving country, but it should not be mistaken with being cowardly or afraid of war. At a time when we were dealing with COVID-19 along with the entire world, we had to face the tension on the northern border with China. The courage of our soldiers during the Galwan incident proved that no matter how big the power is; India will never bow down,” he said.

On the 2016 surgical strikes & 2019 Balakot airstrikes, Shri Rajnath Singh stated that India’s new strategy against terrorism has broken the backs of those who try to hurt the unity and integrity of the Nation. “Terror activities were carried out from across the border in Pakistan under a well thought out policy. After the Uri and Pulwama attacks, our government and the Armed Forces, through the 2016 surgical strikes & 2019 Balakot airstrikes, displayed to the world India’s unwavering commitment to root out terrorism. We showed that our forces have the capability to act on this side and, if needed, on the other side of the border. India’s image has been transformed. It is now seriously listened to on international platforms,” he said.

The Raksha Mantri shed light on the Government’s unwavering resolve to make the country strong and ‘Aatmanirbhar’ and the progress achieved due to the measures taken to realise the Prime Minister’s vision. “Earlier, India was known as a defence importer. Today, it is one of the top 25 defence exporters in the world. From about Rs 900 crore eight years ago, defence exports have crossed Rs 13,000 crore. We are hopeful that the defence exports will touch Rs 35,000 crore by 2025 and the target of Rs 2.7 lakh crore worth of defence exports set for 2047 will be met,” he said.

Shri Rajnath Singh added that the formation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff and setting up of Department of Military Affairs are some of the major reforms taken to bolster to national security. “Doors of National Defence Academy (NDA) have been opened for girls, women in the Armed Forces being given permanent commission. We have opened the way for deployment of women on warships,” he said, while stressing that the Government is building a ‘New India’ which will give a sense of security and trust to all our peace-loving friendly countries and those with evil intentions will get nothing but dust.

The Raksha Mantri was of the view that the inspiration taken from the heroes of the Armed Forces is the reason behind India moving swiftly forward on the path of development. “When the dark clouds of war appear and national interests are attacked, it is the soldier who bears that attack and protects the country. It is the supreme sacrifice of the fallen heroes which keeps the people alive,” he stated.

Shri Rajnath Singh termed Himachal Pradesh as a border state strategically important for India and the people residing in the border areas as strategic assets. While emphasising that it is the responsibility of every government to make their lives better, he stated strengthening the border infrastructure as well as the intelligence and communication capability of the country has been accorded top priority by the Government, led by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. He pointed out that hundreds of kms of roads, bridges and tunnels have been constructed in the border areas, with Atal Tunnel in Himachal Pradesh being one of the mega projects.

The Raksha Mantridescribed the ex-servicemen as the assets of the country, stressing that no price can be set for their sacrifices in the service of the motherland. He reiterated the Government’s commitment and duty towards the well-being and welfare of the veterans. He listed out the steps taken by Ministry of Defence, including the online services under ‘Digital India’, to increase their ease of living. These include Smart Canteen Card, Ex-servicemen Identity Card; online access to Kendriya Sainik Board & Directorate General of Resettlement Services and the launch of System for Pension Administration (Raksha) (SPARSH) initiative.

Shri Rajnath Singh also referred to India’s victory in the 1971 war, saying that it will be remembered in history as a war fought for humanity rather than any kind of property, rights or power. “The names of General Sam Manekshaw, General Jagjit Singh Arora, General Jacob, General Sujan Singh Uban and General Officer in Command Air Marshal Latif, who led India to a resounding victory, will never be forgotten. Indian soldiers in the war included Hindus, Muslims, Parsis, Sikhs and one Jew. It is proof of India’s belief towards Sarvadharma Sambhav (respect for all religions). All these brave soldiers belonged to different states with different mother tongues. They were bound by a strong and common thread of Indianness,” he said.