BSF free to retaliate Pak shelling on borders: HM

NEW DELHI, May 22: Asserting Pakistan was not “mending its ways”, Home Minister Rajnath Singh today sent out a strong message to it over the continuing spate of unprovoked firing incidents along the border saying the Government will never seek answers from Indian forces on “how they chose to retaliate” to such actions.
Delivering the keynote speech at the Border Security Forces’ 16th Investiture Ceremony here, he said, without naming Pakistan, that it was an “irony” that despite India wanting peace with its neighbours, a particular country was not “mending its ways.”
“This (Pakistan’s acts) can be a subject of research and these activities of the neighbour are hard to understand,” Singh said.
He said that while the Government has directed the Border Security Force (BSF) and other forces on the border like the Army to never fire the first bullet, “no one will ask them how they chose to retaliate”.
“If you (the BSF) are fired upon, then you have to decide what is the best course of reaction or action. You have done this with remarkable responsibility in the past,” the Minister told the personnel of the border guarding force.
He reiterated that the force was giving a “befitting reply” to these unprovoked incidents, especially those taking place along the India-Pakistan International Border (IB) in the Jammu region for the last few days.
So far, seven persons including two BSF jawans and an infant have been killed and 18 others injured in the latest ceasefire violation by Pakistan in the Jammu region.
Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed a spurt in Pakistani shelling and firing along the IB and the LoC this year with over 700 such incidents being reported this year, which have left a total of 39 people, including 18 security personnel, dead and scores injured.
The Home Minister said the Modi Government’s ambitious plan to completely seal its borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh using technology gadgets and ‘smart fences’ is a “work in progress.”
“In few months, the work should get completed,” he said.
We are a peace loving country and want cordial relations with all the countries including our neighbours, he said addding India gave to the world the concept of ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam’ or ‘the world is one family’.
The Minister called the BSF as the ‘first wall of defence’ on the borders and said the troops of the force, owing to their valour and courage, have ensured that the Indian frontiers are safe under them.
Singh added that nothing can be “supreme” than the fact that a soldier lays down his life for the nation and everyone should ensure that the troops have high morale all the times.
He added that his Government, from early this year, has started providing the operational casualty certificate to the families of those Central Armed Police Forces personnel who are killed in the line of duty.
The defence forces also give the families of their killed troops such a certificate.
India does not discriminate against anyone on the basis of religion or sect, and such things will never be allowed in the country, Rajnath said.
His comments came in the wake of the Archbishop of Delhi referring to a “turbulent political atmosphere” in the country and appealing to launch a prayer campaign ahead of the 2019 general elections.
“I have not seen the statement (of the Archbishop) verbatim but all I can say is that India is a country where there is no discrimination against anyone on the basis of caste, sect or religion. Such a thing cannot be allowed,” Singh said on the sidelines of an event of the Border Security Force (BSF) here.
During the event, the Home Minister said the Government will not allow any breach in the unity of the country.
“Sometimes questions are asked to us. We will not compromise on the unity, integrity and sovereignty of this country at any cost and this is our top priority. We are also committed to strengthen the bonds of amity, affinity and harmony in our society,”  he said.
The Archbishop of Delhi, Anil Couto, had reportedly written a letter to all parish priests in the capital earlier this month asking for a prayer campaign to be launched and also appealing to fast on Fridays in run up to the 2019 general elections.
Citing the “turbulent political atmosphere which poses a threat to the democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution and the secular fabric of our nation”, the letter says, “It is our hallowed practice to pray for our country and its political leaders all the time but all the more so when we approach the general elections.”
“As we look forward towards 2019, when we will have a new Government, let us begin a prayer campaign for our country,” states the letter. (PTI)


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