Those who support and provide sanctuary to terrorists can’t be spared, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a veiled message to Pakistan on Tuesday, adding that sometimes war becomes inevitable but India believes in walking the path of peace.
“Hum yudh se Budh ki yatra par jaane wale log hain (We are the people who move from war to the path of peace as shown by Lord Buddha). We are for a balance between war and peace,” Modi said at a public rally in Lucknow to mark Dussehra celebrations on Tuesday, twelve days after India launched surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the de-facto border with Pakistan.
The PM did not name Pakistan in his speech, the first since India’s military retribution against the neighbour New Delhi blames for the terror attack on an army base in Uri that left 19 soldiers dead.
“It is not possible to protect humanity without wiping out terrorism,” he said.
Modi’s tough talk on terrorism came amid a political slugfest over the surgical strikes, with opposition parties accusing the BJP of profiteering from the military action and the ruling party berating the opposition for “belittling” the sacrifice of the armed forces.
Posters at Aishbagh ground in Lucknow welcomed Modi and home minister Rajnath Singh as “avengers of Uri”, an indicator of how NDA-led India’s muscular response to Pakistan could shape the poll campaign in UP where the BJP has been out of power for 14 years.
The PM’s chants of “Jai Shri Ram” at the start and the end of his speech drew cheers from the impressive gathering in Lucknow, the capital of UP where this slogan defined politics during the Ram temple movement in late 1980s and early 1990s.
Modi said that the first to rise against terrorism was Jatayu, a vulture in the epic Ramayana which unsuccessfully fought Ravana to stop him from abducting Sita. The PM exhorted 125 crore Indians to be Jatayu in the face of terrorism.
If everyone is alert, the evil designs of terrorists can be foiled, he said.
Modi said that it was only after 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai that the world woke up to terrorism. “In 1992-93, when I was talking to the US secretary of state about growing terrorism in the country, he had said it was a law and order problem and not terror. But post 26/11, the world knows what terror is,” he said at the historic ground where Ram Leela if believed to have been staged for the last 650 years.
This was the first time a PM chose to depart from the tradition of celebrating Dussehra at Delhi’s Ram Leela grounds.
Modi invoked the legend of Ram and Sita to highlight the government’s pledge to end gender bias in the country. “We burn effigies of Raavan since ages to condemn the assault on Sita’s honour. But we distinguish between boys and girls,” Modi said as he referred to filth, poverty, illiteracy and casteism as other forms of evil.
Addressing the rally earlier, Union home minister Rajnath Singh said that under Modi’s leadership, the government has shown to the world that India is a strong nation.