New Delhi: India will give a befitting reply if an enemy country attacks it, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Friday, sending a clear message to China in the midst of the border row in eastern Ladakh.

Without naming any country, the defence minister, in a message to armed forces on the eve of the Independence Day, said anyone daring to occupy India’s land has to suffer heavy consequences.

He said India believes in winning hearts and not land, but it does not mean the country will let hurt its self-esteem.

“Today the country is confident that no force can occupy even one inch of land while you are deployed. If anyone dares to do it, then he has to suffer heavy consequences and will continue to suffer,” Rajnath Singh said.

He said whatever India does in the realm of national security is always for self-defense and not to attack other countries. “If enemy country attacks us, then we will give a befitting reply like every time,” he said.

“History is a witness to the fact that India never attacked anyone or tried to capture land of another country,” Rajnath Singh added.

He assured the armed forces that government is doing all that is required to maintain their operational requirement. Singh also paid “special tributes” to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the Galwan Valley clashes on June 15.

“This country can never forget their bravery and their supreme sacrifice. I want to assure their families that they are not alone, the whole country stands with them,” he said.

Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in a violent clash with Chinese armies in Galwan Valley. The Chinese side also suffered casualties but it is yet to give out the details.

“Our forces are pioneers in the defending the nation. I assure you that the government is doing all that is necessary to keep your morale high and fulfill your operational requirement,” Rajnath Singh said.

Referring to development of infrastructure in border areas, he also mentioned about the construction of a 80-km-long strategically crucial road in Uttarakhand.

India’s ties with Nepal came under strain after Rajnath Singh inaugurated the road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand on May 8.

Nepal protested the inauguration of the road claiming that it passed through its territory. Singh said the 8.8-km-long Rohtang tunnel is likely to be completed by September.

The tunnel at Rohtang pass in Himachal Pradesh is located at a height of over 10,000 feet. The defence minister also said that the arrival of five Rafale jets to India marked the beginning of a new era in the country’s military history.

Source : PTI