In­dia Marks 71st In­de­pen­dence Day

PM: SE­CU­RITY OUR PRI­OR­ITY

India Strategic - - CONTENTS - By Ma­hen­dra Ved

NEW DELHI. Suc­ces­sive Prime Min­is­ters of In­dia have since the in­de­pen­dence high­lighted se­cu­rity is­sues from the ram­parts of Delhi’s his­toric Red Fort while ad­dress­ing the na­tion on the In­de­pen­dence Day. In keep­ing with that trend of­ten dic­tated by threats from out­side and within, and with ten­sions along the bor­ders with both China and Pak­istan now, Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi de­clared on the 71st In­de­pen­dence Day, “se­cu­rity is our pri­or­ity”.

“It is clear that se­cu­rity of our coun­try is our pri­or­ity. In­ter­nal se­cu­rity is our pri­or­ity. Be it sea or bor­ders, be it cy­ber or space, In­dia is ca­pa­ble of tack­ling every se­cu­rity chal­lenge,” he said.

He did not men­tion ei­ther of the neigh­bours, though.

He spoke as a mil­i­tary and di­plo­matic stand-off with China en­tered the third month. Troops of the two are po­si­tioned

eye­ball- to- eye­ball on Dok­lam Plateau on the tri-junc­tion of In­dia, China and Bhutan. While China has is­sued daily warn­ings de­mand­ing that In­dia with­draw from a dis­puted po­si­tion, In­dia, ad­her­ing to a 2012 pact, in­sists that both sides go back where they were on June 15 and be­gin talks.

The cri­sis has alarmed the world com­mu­nity as China is­sues threats of war and mil­i­tary ac­tion al­most daily but In­dia is stand­ing firm, with­out re­spond­ing to the rhetoric.

With Pak­istan, there has been no di­plo­matic di­a­logue for long as fir­ing in­ci­dents oc­cur fre­quently along the Line of Con­trol (LOC) in Jammu and Kash­mir as do the in­fil­tra­tion of ter­ror­ists from Pak­istan to In­dia. The an­nual jostling is on by Pak­istan to push as many armed ter­ror­ists cross the Line of Con­trol (LOC) be­fore the win­ter sets in.

For one who is known for his rhetoric es­pe­cially when speak­ing in Hindi lan­guage, he kept his speech rel­a­tively short and di­rect.

But he did al­lude to cy­berspace at­tacks on sen­si­tive web sites, on ef­forts to curb il­le­gal move­ment of arms and nar­cotics and of fake cur­rency, (that has par­tic­u­larly been smug­gled into In­dia by Pak­istan where ISI owns and prints the In­dian Ru­pees).

Modi as­sured the gath­er­ing and the na­tion that armed forces were de­ployed to pro­tect the bor­der ef­fec­tively.

For good mea­sure, Modi also re­ferred to last year’s sur­gi­cal strikes on ter­ror launch pads across the LoC and said the world has re­alised the met­tle of In­dia’s se­cu­rity forces.

Pak­istan has con­sis­tently sought to deny that the strikes took place at all, but claimed to have launched one of its own ear­lier this year.

“Our Army, our brave­hearts, every per­son­nel in uni­form have shown their ca­pa­bil­ity and grit when­ever there was a sit­u­a­tion. Our heroes never shied away from sac­ri­fices,” The Prime Min­is­ter ob­served.

He fo­cused on in­ter­nal se­cu­rity as well, say­ing

the per­son­nel in uni­form were al­ways ready to com­bat any kind of chal­lenges – be it Left-wing ex­trem­ism, ter­ror­ism, in­fil­tra­tion or tack­ling those try­ing to fo­ment trou­ble in­side the coun­try.

Due to the ef­forts of the se­cu­rity forces, par­tic­u­larly in ar­eas un­der Left-wing ex­trem­ism, a large num­ber of youths have sur­ren­dered and made ef­forts to come to the main­stream, he pointed out.

He as­serted that there will be no soft ap­proach to­wards ter­ror­ism or ter­ror­ists and the gov­ern­ment is de­ter­mined to rid the coun­try of this evil men­ace. He was happy at the sup­port In­dia was re­ceiv­ing in its ef­fort and thanked the world com­mu­nity for it. “We are not alone,” he de­clared.

“You will be happy to know that we are not alone in our fight against ter­ror­ism. So many coun­tries have been ac­tively help­ing us. If there is hawala ( il­le­gal money trans­fer from abroad) trans­ac­tion, the world is giv­ing us in­for­ma­tion; the world is giv­ing us de­tails about move­ment of ter­ror­ists.”

“I want to thank all those coun­tries which are co­op­er­at­ing with In­dia in fight­ing the men­ace and this co­op­er­a­tion is giv­ing strength in en­sur­ing over­all peace and se­cu­rity,” Modi said.

On mil­i­tants within the coun­try, Modi nev­er­the­less in­di­cated a softer line and said the gov­ern­ment was ready to talk even to them. His gov­ern­ment had given an op­por­tu­nity to them to join the na­tional main­stream.

For in­stance, he said, “Nei­ther bul­lets nor brick­bats will solve the Kash­mir is­sue, only love will.”

“We have told ter­ror­ists ‘you come to the main­stream, you have right to talk in­side the coun­try’s demo­cratic sys­tem’. Only the main­stream can fill the en­ergy in every one’s life,” he said, os­ten­si­bly re­fer­ring to the mil­i­tants in Kash­mir pur­su­ing a sep­a­ratist agenda.

“In­dia’s stature in the world is ris­ing. The world is with us in fight against ter­ror. I thank all na­tions help­ing us do­ing so,” the Prime Min­is­ter said.

To keep the na­tion and the world in­formed of what was hap­pen­ing on the bor­ders and within the coun­try, Modi an­nounced that a web­site was be­ing launched to give in­for­ma­tion about se­cu­rity per­son­nel who have con­trib­uted sig­nif­i­cantly to­wards the coun­try.

He also re­ferred to im­ple­men­ta­tion of One Rank One Pen­sion (OROP) scheme for de­fence per­son­nel, some­thing the re­tired per­son­nel have been ask­ing for long.

“For the last 30, 40 years, the is­sue of ‘one-rank, one- pen­sion’ was pend­ing. When the gov­ern­ment ful­fils the de­mand, when the gov­ern­ment heeds to wishes of the armed forces, then their re­solve to give sac­ri­fices for the coun­try in­creases,” he said.

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi ad­dress­ing the na­tion from the ram­parts of Red Fort

Sa­lut­ing the Na­tional flag; meet­ing Pres­i­dent Ram Nath Kovind at the ‘At Home’ func­tion in Rash­tra­p­ati Bha­van; Pres­i­dent Kovind wel­com­ing for­eign guests

Meet­ing ‘Bal Kan­haiyas’ af­ter the ad­dress; Min­gling with school chil­dren

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