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PM Modi strikes back, says army’s actions louder than words

india Updated: Oct 15, 2016 05:59 IST
Hindustan Times
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a gathering in Bhopal. (Mujeeb Faruqui/HT Photo)

The Indian Army does not speak but displays its valour, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday, in a subtle counter to the opposition’s demand for proof of the “surgical strikes” across the de-facto border with Pakistan.

Modi’s comments came amid a debate over the surgical strikes launched days after suspected Pakistan-based militants attacked an army camp in Kashmir’s Uri, killing 19 jawans.

“When I would say this earlier, they (critics) would tear my hair out. They would say Modi is sleeping and doing nothing. Like our army which does not speak but displays its valour, our defence minister (Manohar Parrikar) also does not speak...,” Modi said at an ex-servicemen’s rally before inaugurating a war memorial.

Modi’s defence of Parrikar was also in apparent response to criticism over what many term as excessive chest-thumping by the political leader of the armed forces.

The opposition accuses the Modi government of “profiteering” from the army strikes to gain political mileage in poll-bound states. The government has criticised the Congress-led opposition of “belittling” the sacrifices of the armed forces by seeking evidence of the surgical strikes.

Parrikar also underlined India’s rich history of valour and indirectly referred to the surgical strikes, saying the army gave an example of their bravery.

Modi sent out a message to Pakistan, saying that among the Indians rescued from war-torn Yemen were a few citizens of the neighbouring country.

The PM showered lavish praise on the army saying the force doesn’t think about stone-pelters while carrying out humanitarian work, seen as an attempt to deflect criticism of security personnel over alleged excesses during violent protests in Kashmir where violent street protests have left more than 90 people dead over the last three months.

Two security personnel are among dead while scores of others have been injured by stones, bricks and other projectiles thrown by protesters Kashmir.

Modi said the attacks on army personnel “sometimes damaged their eyes, sometimes broke their heads and sometimes the attack with stones was so fierce that it posed a threat to their lives”.

He added that the “biggest strength and weapon” of the armed forces were determination will power “that is derived from the support of 1.2 billion Indians.

He said India took part in World War I and II despite the fact India had nothing to do with the wars and 1.5 lakh jawans sacrificed their lives in these wars.

He criticised the previous Congress government at the Centre for doing nothing on the one rank one pension (OROP) scheme.

“But we fulfilled our promise. Given the huge amount of arrears we will pay the amount in four instalments out of which one instalment of Rs 5,500 crore has already been deposited the bank accounts of pensioners,” he added.