NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has made it clear that while India would respect the ceasefire along the Pakistan border and the unilateral Ramzan ceasefire in Kashmir, no unprovoked attack would go without a response.
Addressing a Press conference in New Delhi to mark four years of the BJP government on Tuesday, she cited figures to indicate that the Indian forces had been given not just more money, but also the power to spend that money as they deemed fit. The meet began by observing one-minute silence to honour Air Commodore Sanjay Chauhan, who died in Jaguar crash near Jamnagar earlier in the day.
“Ceasefire at the border is very important. However, it is equally important to respond to any terror attacks on our country,” she said. “It’s our business to guard the border and we won’t stop if we’re provoked. We shall be alert that no unprovoked attack goes without us responding. It’s our duty to keep India safe. The Army was consulted before the announcement of ceasefire in Kashmir. But the Army was given the right to respond while honouring the ceasefire. The MoD’s role is not to ascertain whether the ceasefire has been successful or not. It’s our business to guard the borders.”
As far as a dialogue with Pakistan was concerned, she reiterated India’s consistent position that “terror and talks cannot go on hand-in-hand”. “When we came into power, there was an ammunition shortage. Now there is no shortage. Powers were given to the headquarters, backed by enough funds, so there is no shortage,” she asserted.
As for the allegations of irregularities in the Rafale deal, she insisted that there was “absolutely no misdoing in Rafale. We are very clear on that. It was intergovernmental agreement, and “all false comparisons between Rafale, which was not bought, and using that as a comparison to say that what you paid today is far higher is just a non-starter”.