Bhopal, Oct 14 (IANS) Inaugurating ‘Shaurya Smarak’, a war memorial dedicated to the Indian soldiers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday lauded the humanitarian work of the “selfless” defence forces in times of natural or man-made calamities.
Be it the Uttarakhand floods of 2013 or the Kashmir floods of 2014, the Indian Army did a commendable job in saving thousands of lives, the Prime Minister told a gathering of ex-servicemen at the Parade Ground here.
“In Kashmir, our soldiers rescued — and provided humanitarian aid to — thousands of people without giving a thought that these are the same people who throw stones at the Indian forces.”
“Sometimes these stones can be fatal. But despite that, our soldiers did not go into who did what to them in the past. They just saved the lives of their fellow countrymen,” the Prime Minister said.
He said the Shaurya Smarak is a holy site for every Indian and an open university for posterity to learn our ethos.
He reminded the audience that the uniformed men armed with weapons also had a humane face.
“The first image of a soldier may be that of a uniformed person with bloodshot eyes, carrying weapons and looking for enemies, but the same soldier has a very humane face too,” Modi said.
He said the Indian Army may not be the strongest in the world, but it certainly is on the top on the parameters of humanity, discipline, ethics and behaviour towards civilians.
“Thousands of Indians were stranded in Yemen and their lives were hanging between life and death. Our armed forces brought out more than 5,000 Indians and many foreigners, including Pakistanis, safely out of Yemen,” the Prime Minister said.
Modi said the biggest strength of any army is its high morale, which doesn’t come from any weapons but from the backing of 125 crore Indians.
Modi made an indirect reference to the September 29 surgical strikes across the Line of Control. “… our army doesn’t talk but displays valour. Just as the army doesn’t speak but shows valour, our Defence Minister (Manohar Parrikar) too doesn’t speak.”
Parrikar was present on the dais.
Touching on the ‘One Rank One Pension’ (OROP) issue, the Prime Minister said: “For the last many decades, the armed forces had been demanding OROP. Previous governments only made promises, and some were smart enough to make little budgetary allocation of a few hundred crores. But I feel satisfied that our government has fulfilled the promise we made to our soldiers.”
Speaking earlier, Parrikar said India is not short on valour and bravery and that our defence forces showed it once again on September 29.
He said the war memorial has come up at a time when our soldiers have just shown their valour in protecting the nation.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, calling the Prime Minister a ‘super manav’, said the earlier governments made memorials in the name of members of a particular family but never for soldiers.
“We are indebted to our brave soldiers; Shaurya Smarak is not a memorial, it is a temple of their bravery,” Chouhan said.
Security in the city was beefed up at the airport, railway station, bus stand and markets in the Madhya Pradesh capital ahead of the event.
Police put up barricades at several places across the city and made traffic diversions on several routes to facilitate VIP movement.