Army Chief General M M Naravane pledges to protect Indian borders
The Indian Army's message is clear that it will not let any attempt to unilaterally change the status quo along the country's borders succeed, Army Chief Gen M M Naravane said on Saturday.
In his address at the Army Day Parade here, he said last year was extremely challenging for the Army and cited the developments on the northern borders with China.
Army Day is observed on January 15 to mark Field Marshall K M Cariappa taking over as the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, replacing his British predecessor in 1949.
Referring to the eastern Ladakh standoff, Gen Naravane said that to keep the situation under control, the 14th round military-level talks were held between India and China recently.
He said joint efforts at various levels have led to disengagement in many areas which in itself is a constructive step.
Gen Naravane said that on the basis of mutual and equal security, efforts would continue to find a solution to the current situation.
He asserted that the morale of the soldiers deployed on snow-capped mountains for the country's security was sky-high.
"Our patience is a sign of our self-confidence, but no one should make the mistake of testing it," Gen Naravane said.
"Our message is clear, the Indian Army won't let any attempt to unilaterally change status quo along country's borders to succeed."
The armies of India and China are locked in a military standoff in eastern Ladakh since May 5, 2020, after a violent clash erupted in the Pangong lake area. Both countries have conducted 14 rounds of military-level talks to resolve the standoff.
After May 5, 2020, both Indian and Chinese militaries gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry.
As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process last year in the north and south banks of the Pangong lake and in the Gogra area.
However, disengagement process is yet to be done in areas of Hot Springs, Depsang bulge and Demchok. Each side currently has around 50,000 to 60,000 troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the sensitive sector.
Gen Naravane said that the situation on the LoC (Line of Control) is better than the previous year but Pakistan is still harbouring terrorists.
Nearly 300-400 terrorists in training camps across the border are waiting to intrude into India, he said, adding a total of 194 terrorists were killed in counter-operations in the last one year.
"Attempts to smuggle arms across the border through drones continue," he mentioned.
In the interior areas of Jammu and Kashmir, there has been progressive improvement during the last two years, he noted.
Therefore, terrorist organisations across the border have been trying to create hurdles on the path of the development and they have increased their attempts, the Army chief stated.
"It is a part of their conspiracy to target non-locals and poor labourers," he added.
The security situation in the Northeast has improved significantly in the last one year due to proactive military operations, he mentioned.
Because of these operations, most of the terrorist organisations in the Northeast have announced ceasefire, he said.
The reduction in the number of troops to handle the internal security is a sign of improved situation, he added.
India's Myanmar border is very important in terms of security and Assam Rifles is giving proper attention to it, he said.
The Army and Assam Rifles, along with the state governments in the Northeast, are jointly giving shape to the 'Act East' policy of the central government, Gen Naravane noted.
He said the Indian Army is taking concrete steps to modernise itself so as to face current challenges and future dangers.
"Along with top institutions such as IITs, the Army is speedily working on new technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, unmanned systems, directed energy weapons and swarm drones," he mentioned.
Gen Naravane said the plan to creating joint theatre commands with the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force is moving ahead in a time-bound manner.
"You will see a lot of related transformational changes in future," he added.
The Army chief also talked about the achievements of Army soldiers in last year's Tokyo Olympics.
He said 16 athletes of the Indian Army took part at last year's Olympics and one of them (Neeraj Chopra) was able to get India's first gold medal in athletics.
"This (winning gold medal) is a golden moment in our country's sports history," he mentioned.