Vowing to keep the “nation above all”, Indian Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor said in New Delhi on Thursday that the force's "patience is being tested" post the Mumbai attacks. He was speaking on the 61st Army Day.
"Mumbai attack ke baad sena ke dhairya ki pariksha li jaa rahi hai. Bharat lambe samay se atankwad se jujh raha hai (After the Mumbai attack the patience of the army is being tested. India has been fighting against terrorism for a long time)," Kapoor told a gathering of serving and retired defence personnel at the Delhi Cantonment parade ground.
"There are many challenges before the army. Our neighbour has been creating problem for us. We need to be eternally vigilant," Kapoor cautioned without naming Pakistan.
Army Day is celebrated on Jan 15 every year to commemorate the appointment in 1949 of General KM Cariappa as commander-in-chief of the Indian Army, the first Indian officer to hold the post.
On the occasion, the army chief presented Sena Medals for gallantry and unit citations.
"Our troops have stood up to upheld the faith which the nation reposed in them to come up to the expectation and for that I humbly feel proud and keeping that as the perspective, the theme for the army day celebrations this year as been 'Nation above all'," Kapoor said.
Citing the challenges before the army, Kapoor said: "The country, especially in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast, has been facing challenges from elements who want to destroy peace in India and we are working to tackle it."
General Kapoor took the salute at a parade showcasing the technological prowess and achievements of the 1.1 million-strong Indian Army.
Spectators cheered as the smartly dressed contingents of various regiments and T-90 tanks strutted past. The other hit among the audience, especially children, were the motorcycle stunts by the Dare-Devils and display of close combat by the army men - at the end of which the parade ground reverberated with the cries of "Bharat Mata ki Jai (long live Mother India)".
Besides Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh, the only living five-star general of the armed forces, several serving and retired defence officers were present on the occasion.
Earlier in the day, General Kapoor, Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta and Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major paid floral tributes to martyrs at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at the India Gate in New Delhi.