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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to perform ‘Shastra Puja’ for Rafale jet in France

Rajnath Singh./ File photo

Rajnath Singh./ File photo  

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Mr. Singh will receive the first of the 36 Rafale fighter jets at a facility of Dassault Aviation in the French port city of Bordeaux.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will on Tuesday perform ‘Shastra Puja’ (worship of weapons) on the occasion of Dussehra in the French port city of Bordeaux where he will receive the first Rafale fighter jet, officials said.

Mr. Singh has been performing ‘Shastra Puja’ for last several years including in his tenure as the Union Home Minister in the previous NDA government.

Mr. Singh is leaving for Paris on a three-day visit, primarily to receive the first of 36 Rafale fighter jets on Tuesday when Dussehra is coinciding with the foundation day of the Indian Air Force.

Before leaving for Bordeaux on the morning of Tuesday, the minister will meet French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and is expected to discuss issues relating to defence and security ties between the two countries.

The ceremony to hand over the Rafale jet will take place at a facility of Dassault Aviation, the makers of the aircraft, in Merignac of Bordeaux, some 590 km from Paris.

Though Mr. Singh will receive the first of 36 Rafale jets on Tuesday, the first batch of four aircraft will come to India only by May next year.

Officials said top military brass of France as well as senior officials of Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale, will also be present at the Rafale handing over ceremony.

Sources said a high-level team of the Indian Air Force is already in France to coordinate with the French officials on the handing over ceremony.

On October 9, Mr. Singh is scheduled to hold extensive talks with top defence brass of the French government on ways to further deepen defence and security cooperation between the two countries.

“The defence minister will participate in the Rafale handing over ceremony at Merignac along with French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly. He will also perform the Shastra puja on the auspicious occasion of Vijayadashami and fly a sortie in the Rafale fighter aircraft,” Defence Ministry Spokesperson Bharat Bhusan Babu said.

Later Mr. Singh will hold the annual defence dialogue with Parly during which both sides will explore ways to further deepen defence and security ties.

On October 9, Mr. Singh will address the CEOs of leading French defence firms during which he is likely to urge them to participate in the “Make in India” in defence sector in India, Mr. Babu said.

Mr. Singh is also likely to invite them to the DefExpo to be held in Lucknow from February 5 to 8 next year.

India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around ₹58,000 crore.

The sources said the first squadron of the aircraft will be deployed at Ambala air force station, considered one of the most strategically located bases of the IAF. The Indo-Pak border is around 220 km from there.

The second squadron of Rafale will be stationed at Hasimara base in West Bengal.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 11:35:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/defence-minister-rajnath-singh-to-perform-shastra-puja-for-rafale-jet-in-france/article29610297.ece

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