India has never tried to hurt any country, but a befitting reply will be given if anyone tries to cast an evil eye on it, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Sunday, amid a lingering border row with China in eastern Ladakh.
In his address at a virtual event, the defence minister emphasised that strict vigil is being maintained at the borders and that the country is ready to deal with all challenges.
"India is a peace-loving nation which has never tried to hurt any country, but if any attempt is made to disrupt peace and harmony in the country, a befitting reply will be given," he said.
The defence minister noted that bolstering the security apparatus by equipping the armed forces with indigenous state-of-the-art weapons is the top priority of the government.
He also urged the citizens to contribute to nation-building by transcending sectarian barriers and imbibing the qualities of national pride and patriotism, found in abundance in every Indian soldier and freedom fighter, according to the defence ministry.
The event, "Shaheedon ko Salaam", was organised by an NGO named "Maruti Veer Jawan Trust".
Singh said the armed forces personnel, rising above the barriers of region, religion, caste and language, serve the nation selflessly and protect people from various kinds of threats, the same way the "revolutionary" freedom fighters laid down their lives for the country's independence.
"It is the duty of every citizen to carry forward the ideals and resolutions of our freedom fighters and soldiers, protect the unity, integrity and sovereignty of our nation and play their part in building a strong, prosperous and self-reliant 'New India'," he said.
Singh further said India has never tried to hurt any country, but a befitting reply will be given if anyone tries to cast an evil eye on it.
Terming the support to the family members of the fallen heroes a national responsibility, the defence minister asserted that the government is committed to ensuring the welfare of the next of kin of the serving as well as the retired security forces personnel.
He described the family as the biggest strength and support system of a soldier and said the government is leaving no stone unturned to strengthen that support system.
"During my stint as the home minister, the 'Bharat Ke Veer' fund was one of the major decisions taken to support the families of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) jawans and officers," Singh said.
"Recently, the Ministry of Defence launched the 'Maa Bharati Ke Sapoot' website to enable people to contribute more to the armed forces Battle Casualties Fund," he said.
The defence minister said the induction of "Made-in-India" ships and other equipment reflects the resolve to achieve complete 'aatmanirbharta' (self-reliance) in the defence sector soon.
(With PTI inputs)