GUWAHATI: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh sent out a firm warning to China right from the frontline as he visited Arunachal Pradesh on Thursday.
He said India would not tolerate any aggression. “As far as India is concerned, there is no second opinion. We are a worshipper of peace and we never resorted to aggression against any country, whether a neighbour or otherwise. But if someone resorts to aggression against us, we know how to give a befitting reply,” Singh told a gathering at Kimin in Arunachal after dedicating 12 roads, built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), to the nation.
This was his maiden visit to the frontier state since the clashes occurred in eastern Ladakh last year. In November 2019, China had objected to his visit to the state.
“We want to maintain peace with everyone. The message that the whole world is one family had gone out from India. Our intention has never been to show any aggression against any country,” the Defence Minister reiterated.
He said the Northeast is strategic from the military point of view.
“The Northeast has a unique geography as it is bound by five countries,” Singh said, taking the names of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal but not China.
Beijing lays its claim over entire Arunachal but the state’s Chief Minister Pema Khandu often calls it the Arunachal-Tibet border.
Singh said there are challenges in the Northeast and cited the problem of border smuggling, particularly fake currency notes.
“The Northeast is known worldwide for its beauty and socio-cultural diversities. But the truth is that post-independence, the region did not develop at a pace it should have. It has developed under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The people here know it,” the Minister said.
He lauded the BRO for the construction of the roads. He said the BRO’s ability signified India’s self-dependence. The roads built are key to nation’s security, he added.
Ten of the 12 roads have been built in Arunachal and one each in Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.