In a strong warning to those disrupting border peace, Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said the country will not hesitate in retaliating if someone fires first and asserted the government is ready to talk to Pakistan over PoK and not Kashmir.
“India always wants good friendly relations with its neighbours and continues with its policy of not disturbing anyone. But if someone fires at us first, we will not count the retaliatory bullets. Chhedenge nahi, par chhodenge bhi nahi (will not disturb anyone, but if disturbed, then won’t spare anyone),” Mr. Singh said.
He was addressing an inaugural programme of the first Y.N. Singh Memorial Foundation Lecture Series on ‘National Security, Challenges and Strategy’ in Bhopal on Saturday night.
Late Y.N. Singh had served in co-operative department of Madhya Pradesh government. He was remembered for enhancing agriculture production through fertiliser distribution strategies.
On Pakistan raising the issue of Kashmir, Mr. Rajnath said, “During my meeting with the Pak Rangers and its delegation, I have cleared to them, Kashmir was, is and will remain India’s integral part and if you wish to talk, then talk about Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) only.”
“I have also tried to convince?? Pak Rangers that why they fire at the uniform (soldiers). First you fire, then we retaliate. Why not both of us will together fire at terrorism to end the menace,” he said.
The Home Minister said it was a challenge to protect the country’s over 23,000-km-long border, but assured it was well protected.
He also exuded confidence that India will become the world’s largest economy in next 10-15 years.
“The world over it was believed that down the line India will emerge as a major economy along with US and China.
However, I am confident that because of India’s core strength, it will become the world’s largest economy in next 10-15 years. But, some anti-national forces don’t want to see India in that position,” he said.
Mr. Singh said India believes in co-existence and it is the only country in the world where Islam’s all 72 ‘firke’ (sects) exist. In no other country, even in Islamic nations, all these 72 firkes were found. The same thing also applies for Christianity and Buddhism, he said.
Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s diplomatic skills, Mr. Singh said it is because of his leadership quality that even a country like United Arab Emirates (UAE) has stood with India on the issue of fighting against terrorism.
“It was unthinkable earlier,” he said.
On the steps taken by the government to enhance vigil on borders, he said in the last one year, the smuggling of cows to Bangladesh has come down to 2.5-3 lakh from the earlier figure of 22 lakh.
“This figure is not just provided by the Border Security Force (BSF) but also by NGOs working on the issue,” he said.
Referring to North East region, he said 70 terrorist organisations are active there and dealing with them is a challenge, but added that change is visible there also while citing the recent agreement with National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM), to prove his point.
On the issue of Naxalism, he said 26 districts in the country are affected with the menace and that the respective state governments are dealing with the problem in an effective manner with the active support from the Centre, both in terms of deploying Central forces and required funds.
Earlier, addressing the function, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh termed “Naxalism as a bigger threat than terrorism.”
“It (Naxalism) is persisting in the country because of an international conspiracy to destabilise India’s economy,” he said.
The Chhattisgarh Chief Minister also highlighted various steps taken by his government, including setting of educational hubs in hardcore Naxal areas, to deal with the problem which helped in checking the menace to a great extent, especially in the state’s Sarguja district.
Chhattisgarh Government’s Principal Secretary Aman Singh, in whose father’s memory the lecture series was launched, highlighted the objectives of the YN Singh Memorial Foundation.
Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker Dr. Sitasharan Sharma, Chhattisgarh Assembly Speaker Gaurishankar Agrawal, Leader of Opposition in Chhattisgarh T.S. Singhdeo and a host of retired and serving bureaucrats were among others present on the occasion.