Kargil is not only a symbol of our self-respect but also a step taken against injustice, said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh while asserting that "we are always ready to take any step for unity and sovereignty of the nation".
His remarks came on the occasion Kargil Vijay Diwas which marks the victory of Indian armed forces over Pakistan in 1999.
"Kargil Vijay Divas is not just a day but a victory celebration of valour of the Indian Army. India cannot forget soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country. Kargil was not just a symbol of our self-pride but a big step against injustice. Former Prime Minister Vajpayee had said we have proved that we will not bow down to any external pressure and India is a responsible nation," Singh said.
"He said whatever we do in the realm of national security, we always do it for self-defence and not for invasion. If the enemy country ever attacked us, then we also proved that like Kargil, we will give a befitting reply. This sentiment is the same after 21 years. We are a peace-loving country. But we are always ready to take a big step at any time for nation's unity and sovereignty," he said.
Singh, along with MoS Defence Shripad Naik and three service chiefs, paid tributes to the fallen soldiers who fought valiantly during Kargil War at National War Memorial this morning.
He also said he is grateful to those who despite becoming disabled in battle, continue to serve the country in their own ways and have set examples worthy of emulation by the nation.
"Recently, I went to Leh, Ladakh and paid tribute to soldiers. The Prime Minister also went there. In adverse conditions, our brave soldiers gave a befitting reply to enemies. I witnessed a change there. In comparison to 20 years ago, I witnessed a big change in equipment profile, recently deployed guns, aerial assets, tanks and BMPs," he said.
The Defence Minister's visit to Ladakh came after 20 Indian soldiers were killed during violent clashes with Chinese troops in Galwan valley last month.
He said that a soldier is above caste, religion and section. "A soldier's only religion is his duty for the country. Like soldiers, we all need to perform our duties as citizens honestly," Singh said.
The Minister said that Kendriya Sainik Board has identified 1,80,000 ex-servicemen who are available to give services in coronavirus times.
He also lauded ex-servicemen saying they have contributed during the inter-state movement of migrant workers and ensuring that people maintain physical distancing.