In a veiled message to Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday that antics of those exporting terror and trying to backstab will not be tolerated and they will be answered in language they understand.
He said Islamabad had been informed of the 2016 surgical strikes before these were announced to the media.
Taking part in an interactive session ‘Bharat ki Baat, Sabke Saath’ at the historic Central Hall Westminster here, Modi referred to the outrage over multiple rape cases of minor girls in India and said such incidents cannot be tolerated.
He took several digs at the opposition, particularly the Congress, and said that the pace of work of his government was much faster than of the previous UPA government.
The interaction, which lasted for more than two hours, saw Modi highlighting achievements of his government in the past about four years to build electoral momentum for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Modi termed the surgical strikes of September 29, 2016 an answer to the exporters of terrorism.
Referring to the Uri terror strike, Modi said: “We will not tolerate those who like to export terror and those who try to stab at the back. We know how to give back strong answers and in the language they understand. Some cowards come and kill our jawans. Do you want me to stay quiet? Shouldn’t they be replied in the same coin?”
“The surgical strike was an answer to the exporters of terrorism, sending message (to Pakistan) that India has changed and their antics will never be tolerated. I am proud of my soldiers. The soldiers executed the surgical strike without making a single mistake and with 100 per cent perfection. And they returned before sunrise,” Modi said.
He said he had told the Army to announce the strikes to media after informing Pakistan. He said Pakistani authorities were initially hesitant to take the calls but came on line around 12 noon the next day after which the media was informed about them.
“…And look at our good intention. I told the army officer in-charge that before announcing the news in India, he should inform the Pakistan army first about the strike and they may remove the bodies if they want to,” he added.
Pakistan has maintained that no surgical strikes were carried out by India.
New Delhi has been accusing Pakistan of sponsoring cross-border terrorism.
Referring to the foreign policy, Modi said India was dealing with all countries in the world on equal terms and was taking independent decisions in its dealings with countries such as Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran. He said India has made its place in international fora and was setting the agenda.
Referring to outrage over rape incidents, Modi said: “A rape is a rape. How can we tolerate this exploitation of our daughters?”
He said comparing statistics of rapes in different governments was a worse way to deal with the issue and referred to his speech from the the Red Fort where he said people need to teach their sons to treat girls with respect.
Modi took veiled potshots at Congress President Rahul Gandhi. “I do not need to read books to understand poverty. I have lived in poverty, I know what it is to be poor and belong to the backward sections of society. I want to work for the poor, the marginalised and the downtrodden,” he said.
Modi said a wrong tendency had developed over the years of people getting overly dependent on the government.
“Mahatma Gandhi made the struggle of freedom a people’s movement. I am making development a people’s movement,” he said.
He said people have more expectations from the BJP-led government as they have faith that it can deliver.
Modi also accused the Congress of promoting legacy of one family and said many people of the country were not aware of contribution of Lord Basaveshwara.
Lord Basaveshwara hailed from Karnataka where assembly polls will be held next month.
Modi said he welcomes criticism as it makes democracy strong.
Modi referred to his government’s initiatives including Ayushman Bharat and doubling farmers income by 2022.
He said he was not born with an aim to be in history books and that 125 crore people of India were his family. “I am like any common citizen.”
Referring to his personal life, Modi said: My life at the Railway Station taught me so much. It was about my personal struggles. When you said Royal Palace, it is not about me but about the 125 crore people of India,” he said.