NEW DELHI: Amid the border standoff with China, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley today said the Indian armed forces are strong enough to meet any challenge to the country's security as he underlined that lessons have been learnt from the 1962 war.
He also said in the Rajya Sabha that the people of the country have a predominant wish of retrieving the parts of Jammu and Kashmir occupied by Pakistan since 1948.
Jaitley, while initiating a special debate to mark the 75th anniversary of Quit India Movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi in 1942, said India had faced many challenges over these decades but "we can proudly say the country became stronger with each challenge".
He said India had "learnt a lesson" from the 1962 war with China that "the armed forces will have to be made fully capable on our own because even today the nation faces challenges from our neighbouring countries."
Compared to 1962, the armed forces were made stronger in 1965 and 1971 wars, Jaitley said.
In 1962, India had to face a war imposed by China and suffer severe reverses. However, in the wars of 1965 and 1971 thrust by Pakistan, India had emerged victorious.
"I agree that some challenges are still there. Some people are targeting our country's sovereignty and integrity. But I am fully confident that our brave soldiers have capabilty to keep our country secure, may it be challenges on the eastern border or the western border," he said.
"The armed forces can give any kind of sacrifice for the security of the nation," the defence minister asserted.
Jaitley's message assumes significance as it comes amid a two-month-long border standoff with China in Doklam even though he did not specifically mention it. He also referred to the occupation of parts of J&K by Pakistan soon after the Independence.
"Initially (after Independence), we faced a crisis. Our neighbour had an eye on Kashmir. Even today, we cannot forget that a part of the country has got separated. It is a wish of every Indian today as to how to retrieve that part," the minister said.
Jaitley, who is Leader of the Rajya Sabha, said today was the day to commit to make India a strong, just and economically-progressive country. He underlined the need for freeeing the country from all kinds of violence, be it in the name terrorism, politics or religion.
Jaitley said the country is facing a bigger challenge from terrorism and Left-wing extremism.
In a clear reference to Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, he said a prime minister and a former prime minister had to lose their lives to terrorism.
Jaitley said people from across the border and also some people within the country who have taken to arms, are trying to spread terrorism especially in northern region of the country. He said the security forces, including army, CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir police have contributed a lot in fight against terrorist in J&K, though some incidents still take place.
Jaitley stressed that the House and the whole nation needed to commit in one voice to fight the menace of terrorism. He also emphasised on probity in public life and reduction of money use in politics.
Emphasising that different religions and castes are an integral part of the country, Jaitley said it is important to manitain harmony in the country. The minister said there should be no place in the country for violence in the name of politics, religion and terrorism.
"The country should be freed from such violence," he said and added that on this historic day there is a need to take pledge to make India strong, just and economically progressive.
While recalling the events related to Quit India movement launched on this day in 1942, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad took a jibe on the ruling BJP, saying "last night too several incidents happened", an apparent reference to Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat and subsequent events.
As Azad said parties of those who participated in the freedom struggle and those who did not could be easily searched online, CPM member Sitaram Yechury quipped that internet was not working.
To this, Azad said the country has defeated the "mightiest powers" and one should not get afraid of such small issues like absence of internet.
Samajwadi Party member Ram Gopal Yadav talked about contribution of socialist leaders like Ram Manohar Lohia and Jai Prakasah Narayan. He asked the government to keep an eye on Himalayan region as "the threat is from that side".
Senior JDU leader Sharad Yadav stressed that one should learn from history. "History should not distorted," he added.