NEW DELHI – The 70th Army Day was celebrated across the country on Monday, with top political leaders and famous personalities paying tribute to troops who made the ultimate sacrifice and Army chief General Bipin Rawat sending out a strong warning to Pakistan on its continued support to terror.
President Ram Nath Kovind, the supreme commander of the three armed forces, greeted soldiers and said the people could sleep safely only because they were protecting the country’s borders.
“Greetings to the valiant men and women of the Indian Army, to veterans and to families of those who have worn the uniform. You are our nation’s pride, the sentinels of our liberty. Citizens sleep securely knowing you are ever awake and ever vigilant,” Kovind said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter and hailed the soldiers for putting the nation first and said the country had unwavering trust and pride in the Army.
“Our Army always puts the nation first. I salute all those great individuals who sacrificed their lives while serving the nation. India will never forget our valiant heroes,” Modi said.
“On Army Day, I convey greetings to the soldiers, veterans and their families. Every citizen has unwavering trust and pride in our Army, which protects the nation and is also on the forefront of humanitarian efforts during times of natural disasters and other accidents,” he said.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman extended her “best wishes” to all ranks of the Army, while Home Minister Rajnath Singh lauded the armed force for its “dedication, discipline and supreme sacrifices”.
General Rawat, along with Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba and Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa, laid wreaths at the Amar Jawan Jyoti here to pay respect to the martyrs.
“All ranks of the Indian Navy join me in wishing our brothers-in-arms in olive greens and their families a very happy Army Day,” said Admiral Sunil Lanba.
Speaking at the Army Day celebrations later at the Cariappa Parade Ground here, General Rawat sent out a warning to Pakistan that India will scale up action if Islamabad continued to support terror and infiltration of militants, while also stressing the need to secure the northern borders along China.
He said any provocative action from Pakistan will lead to a befitting reply.
“On the Line of Control (LoC), the Pakistan Army is continuing ceasefire violations and helping terrorists to infiltrate (into India). We are using our might to teach them a lesson. Any provocative action from Pakistan’s side will get a befitting reply.
“If we are forced, we will scale up the level of our action, and can take other steps,” he said.
Talking about caution on the northern borders, he added: “Disputes are on along the Line of Actual Control, the northern border. Ensuring the security of the LAC is our primary responsibility.”
A colourful parade, with marching contingents, display of mechanised columns and operational display marked the occasion.
The systems on display included the Akash weapon system, Brahmos missile and tanks and Swathi Weapon Locating Radar.
For the first time, the Indian Army had invited around 100 students from other schools of Delhi, including Modern School, Sardar Patel Vidyalaya and DPS International, among others.
Gayatri, a student from Modern School, said the display inspired her to join the armed force.
“It was very exciting as for the first time we saw how our Army engaged the enemy and fights them. This definitely has inspired me to think of Army as a career option after completing my education,” she said.
The Army chief also presented gallantry awards to mark the celebrations that commemorate the day when Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa took charge as the first Indian Army chief in 1949, succeeding General Sir Francis Butcher, the last British Commander-in-Chief of India.