Battles are fought not just on borders but also within a country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday, urging citizens to behave responsibly in order to boost the “morale and honour” of soldiers and asking countrymen to refrain from social media practices that could be “detrimental” to the nation.
Everyone must decide his/her role in these battles that play out on many fronts simultaneously, Modi said in his monthly Mann Ki Baat radio address, reminding people that soldiers fight to protect the country under the “harshest conditions” while calling for a strong sense of national unity.
In his address, which coincided with the 21st anniversary of the Kargil Vijay Diwas, Modi also accused Pakistan of trying to back-stab India by “nursing delusions of encroaching upon Indian soil” in 1999, when New Delhi was looking forward to mending its ties with Islamabad.
Modi also said people bound by a common thread who put the country above everything else bolster the strength of soldiers.
“At times, without paying heed to the essence, we encourage certain things on social media that are detrimental to the country. There are times when we keep forwarding things out of sheer curiosity. Despite knowing that it is wrong, we keep doing it.
“These days, battles are fought not just on borders; they are fought within the country too, on many fronts simultaneously. And every countryman has to decide his or her role in that. We too should determine our roles, fully bearing in mind soldiers fighting on the borders under the harshest conditions,” Modi said.
His comments came at a time when India and China are locked in a border dispute in eastern Ladakh with military and diplomatic officials of the neighbouring countries attempting to hammer out a disengagement plan.
A violent clash on June 15 that killed 20 Indian Army soldiers and an undisclosed number of Chinese troopers in Galwan valley and the subsequent tensions in bilateral relations have triggered an intense political debate, including on social media.
Hitting out at Pakistan, Modi said India can never forget the circumstances under which the Kargil war took place. “Pakistan had embarked upon this misadventure, nursing delusions of encroaching upon Indian soil, to distract attention from the internal strife prevailing there. India was then in the process of making efforts to foster good relations with Pakistan,” Modi said.
The war was declared over on July 26, 1999, after Indian soldiers pushed back Pakistani troops, a bulk of them drawn from the neighbouring country’s Northern Light Infantry, from the captured peaks in Kargil.
Quoting a Sanskrit adage, Modi said, “…to the wicked, enmity with one and all for no reason comes naturally. People with such a disposition keep thinking of harming even their well-wishers…that is why when India extended a hand of friendship, Pakistan tried to respond, stabbing in the back. But after that, when our gallant army displayed deeds of valour, when India demonstrated her might the whole world watched it...”
What former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said from the ramparts of the Red Fort after the Kargil war is still relevant, Modi added.
“Atalji had then reminded the nation of a mantra of Gandhiji. Mahatma Gandhi’s mantra was…in the face of any dilemma, in order to decide what to do or what not to do, one must think of the poorest and the most helpless person of India.
“One must assess whether one’s deed will result in benefitting that particular person or not. Going beyond Gandhiji’s thought, Atalji had said that the Kargil war has given us another mantra. And the mantra was: before taking any important decision, we should think whether our step, our endeavour is befitting to the honour of the soldier who laid down his life in those remote mountains,” Modi said.
Modi urged the youth to visit a website highlighting the tales of bravery of armed forces and police personnel since Independence.
“Today I call upon you to visit, the website, www.gallantryawards.gov.in, positively. There, you will come across an array of information on our brave warriors and tales of their valour. And when you discuss these with your friends, they will become a source of inspiration,” he said.
Modi said he, too, got an opportunity to visit Kargil and witness the gallantry of the jawans. “That day is one of the most precious moments of my life,” he said.
Criticising Modi’s address, Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said the government’s action and policy made it clear that the Prime Minister had failed to understand “Soldiers Ki Baat”.
“Under his leadership, India has the lowest defence budget since 1962. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has frozen the dearness allowance of serving officers of army, navy and air force. The CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General of India) has pulled up the government for providing sub-standard gear to soldiers serving in Siachen...many more such examples show that BJP uses valour of our soldiers only for votes,” he alleged.