India ‘priest’ of peace, but can give apt reply to aggression: Rajnath

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Itanagar: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday that India is the “priest” of world peace, but it has the full ability and strength to give a befitting reply to all acts of aggression.

Virtually dedicating the 20 km Kimin-Potin double-lane road in Arunachal Pradesh and 11 other strategic road projects constructed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in the northeastern state and other places to the nation, Singh said any kind of disturbance to peace and tranquility in the border areas is bound to have adverse implications.

“India is a peace loving nation,” he said.

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The 12 strategic roads would not only give a boost to connectivity, but also facilitate faster movement of troops along the international borders, the Defence Minister said.

“The capacity of the BRO in the construction of world-class roads despite challenges in tough and hilly terrains demonstrates the mantra of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’,” he said.

Praising the BRO for its contribution to the development of roads and other infrastructure in the remote border areas of the country, Singh virtually dedicated the 12 new roads to the nation.

He reiterated the resolve of the government to connect all regions of the country with the overall national mainstream to provide an equal opportunity for development and growth.

The Defence Minister said that these road projects are part of the ‘Act East Policy’ of the government wherein special emphasis is being laid on the overall development of the border areas.

Reiterating the resolve of the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the development of the northeast region, Singh said the region is not only the gateway to the overall development of the country, but also to the nation’s relations with other East Asian countries.

He paid tribute to the soldiers who showed exemplary courage during the Galwan Valley incident last year, making supreme sacrifice in the service of the nation.

The Defence Minister also touched upon some of the major reforms undertaken by the government, including the appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff, measures to boost self-reliance in defence manufacturing and corporatisation of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).

“These reforms are proving to be a game-changer in the military preparedness in the rapidly changing times,” he said.

Singh underlined the constant efforts of the government to make India self-reliant in defence manufacturing under the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ mission envisioned by the Prime Minister.

“We are actively working towards making India a defence manufacturing hub. Self-reliance in defence production will reduce our dependence on imports, increase exports and strengthen our economy,” he stated.

Speaking on the occasion, the Director General of BRO, Lt General Rajeev Chaudhry, highlighted the efforts of the BRO in the overall development of Arunachal Pradesh and thanked the state for assisting the organisation in ensuring infrastructure development in a smooth manner.

Out of the 12 road projects dedicated to the nation, one each has been constructed in Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir, and the remaining in Arunachal Pradesh.

The roads have been constructed under ‘Arunank’, ‘Vartak’, ‘Brahmank’, ‘Udayak’, ‘Himank’ and ‘Sampark’ projects of the BRO.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu, Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and senior BRO and Army officials attended the inaugural event held in Assam’s Lakhimpur.

Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region, Jitendra Singh, was among the dignitaries who attended the event virtually.