No unprovoked attack from across the border shall go unanswered, said Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while holding a presser on the achievements of the Modi government in last four years on Tuesday. Ms Sitharaman also said that defence forces have been given room to hit back.
The minister was responding to questions on the firing along the Indo-Pak border despite the two sides agreeing for a truce off-late.
“We shall keep our borders safe, forces have been given room to respond to any unprovoked firing. We shall ensure that no unprovoked attack goes without response,” she said.
The defence minister also said it is not her ministry’s role to determine whether the ongoing Ramzan ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir has been successful or not.
“We have been given room to hit back when there is unprovoked attack. The Defence ministry’s role is not to assess whether ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir has been successful or not,” Sitharaman said.
The government had announced suspension of operations against militants during the period of Ramzan, which started from May 17. On the possibility of engaging Pakistan in dialogue, Sitharaman reiterated External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s comments that talks and terror cannot go hand-in-hand.
Notwithstanding India’s announcement of Ramzan ceasefire and talks between the Director General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of the two countries, there have been incidents of cross border firing along the Line of Control and International Border in Jammu and Kashmir and nearly a dozen grenade attacks by militants within a week in the Valley.
In response to a question on the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) sanctions impacting Indo-Russian defence ties, the minister said it has conveyed to the USA that New Delhi procures its defence equipment and spare parts from Moscow.
The sanctions, she said, cannot impact this as the ties go a long way back.
Sitharaman also asserted that there was absolutely “no scandal” in the Rafale fighter jet deal with France and allegations of wrongdoings relating to it were politically motivated.
“I am assuring you in the company of all the senior officials that yes there is no scandal in Rafale. We are very clear about that,” she said replying to a question on allegations of scam in the Rafale deal.
Without naming the Congress, Sitharaman said, “false comparisons” were made between the price at which India was procuring the jets and the price being negotiated by some other countries. She called the allegations very clear case of “motivated attacks”.
(With inputs from PTI)