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India believes in peace, but not at cost of self-respect, says PM Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that while India staunchly “believes in peace” and was “committed to taking it forward”, this would “not be at the cost of compromising its self-respect and the sovereignty of our nation”. Recalling the 2016 surgical strikes, he asserted that the armed forces would give a befitting reply to any attempt to destroy the atmosphere of peace prevailing in the country.

In his monthly “Mann ki Baat” radio address, Mr Modi said Indian troops had given a befitting reply to the “audacity of a proxy war” under the “garb of terrorism”. The PM said: “It has now been decided that our soldiers will give a befitting reply to whosoever makes an attempt to destroy the atmosphere of peace and progress in our nation.”

Saying India had always been “resolutely committed to peace”, the PM said India had never eyed someone else’s territory maliciously. “This in itself was our commitment and dedication towards peace,” the PM said. His remarks came days after India called off the planned meeting of Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers in New York, citing the brutal killings of three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir. The external affairs ministry said talks in the circumstances would be futile and also cited stamps issued by Pakistan in July to “glorify” Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani as a reason for the cancellation.

The Prime Minister also pointed out that India was one of the largest contributors to various United Nations peacekeeping forces in terms of sending its personnel. “For decades, our brave soldiers wearing blue helmets have played a stellar role in ensuring the maintenance of world peace,” he said.

Mr Modi had said on Saturday that Indians celebrated the “Parakram Parv” to mark the second anniversary of the surgical strikes. “We remembered the surgical strike carried out in 2016, where our soldiers gave a befitting reply to the audacity of a proxy war under the garb of terrorism,” he said. He said such celebrations remind the youth of the glorious heritage of the Indian Army. “It also inspires us to maintain the unity and integrity of the country,” he said.

Days before Air Force Day will be celebrated on October 8 to mark its birth in 1932, Mr Modi said that our  “air warriors” have proved themselves through the display of sheer might in the skies. He also recalled the IAF’s contribution in transporting men and material to Srinagar in October 1947 when Pakistani attackers had tried to capture Jammu and Kashmir. He said the IAF played a key role in the 1965, 1971 and Kargil wars, and be it in relief and rescue or disaster management, the nation was indebted to the IAF for its commendable efforts.

“Now the Air Force is offering the option of permanent commission to women, besides the short service commission… India can proudly claim that in the armed forces, not only manpower but womanpower too is contributing equally. Women are already empowered and now getting armed too,” he said.

The Prime Minister also stressed on the importance of human rights and inculcating them into practice, saying it was the very basis of his government’s “Sabka saath, sabka vikas” principle. The PM made these remarks while referring to the role of the National Human Rights Commission, which completes 25 years next month.

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