Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday hailed Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman as a brave son of the country. He added that it is a matter of pride for Tamil Nadu that the IAF officer is from the state.

Addressing a gathering in Kanyakumari, the PM, who unveiled a series of major rail and road projects in Tamil Nadu, said, “Every Indian is proud that the brave Wing Commander Abhinanadan is from Tamil Nadu.”

He also expressed pride that India’s first woman Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is from Tamil Nadu.

The PM said that India has been facing the menace of terrorism for years but the previous government did nothing to counter that.

“From 2004 to 2014 there were several terror attacks. The nation expected perpetrators to be punished but nothing happened,” the PM said slamming the UPA government led by Manmohan Singh.

“But there is a big difference now – India will no longer be helpless in the wake of terror,” he added.

The PM said that India expected action against terrorists after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks but nothing happened.

“Uri happened and you saw what our brave men did. Pulwama happened and you saw what our brave men did,” the PM said referring to the September 2016 surgical strike and the 26 February IAF air strike on the biggest Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot.

Praising the soldiers, the PM said that he salutes all those who are serving the nation.

“Their vigilance keeps our nation secure. The events of the past few days have demonstrated yet again the strength of our armed forces. It has also brought our nation closer,” he said.

Addressing the massive gathering at the southern city in Tamil Nadu, the PM said that he bows his head to every Indian who supported the armed forces.

At the same time, the PM slammed the opposition parties for raising fingers on his government over the counter-terror operations and the IAF air strike on the terrorist camp.

“Sadly, a few parties, guided by Modi hatred have started hating India. The world is supporting India’s fight against terror but a few parties suspect our fight against terror,” he said.

“I want to tell them – Modi will come and go, India will remain. Please stop weakening India to strengthen your own politics,” the PM warned.

Opposition parties had earlier accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of “politicising the sacrifices of the jawans”.

“National security must transcend narrow political considerations,” said 21 Opposition parties in a resolution passed at a meeting held on 27 February.

In Tamil Nadu, the PM flagged off Tejas between Madurai and Chennai, which he described as a “great example of Make in India having been manufactured in the Integral Coach factory of Chennai itself”.

He also laid the foundation stone of a railway line between Rameshwaram and Dhanushkodi.

“This line got damaged after the disaster of 1964 but for over fifty years, no attention was paid to this line,” the PM said hitting at the previous governments.

With the town submerged as well, the place was almost abandoned since. Except for the tourists, who visited Dhanushkodi to see the remnants of the abandoned township.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister EK Palaniswami thanked the PM for inaugurating the projects.

“I thank PM who has come here to inaugurate various developmental schemes. I also would like to thank the PM for laying the foundation stone for extension of railway line from Rameswaram-Dhanushkodi and a new bridge replacing old Pamban bridge,” he said before the PM’s address.

The new Pamban bridge will be built parallel to the present bridge that is 104 years old. Once the new bridge is completed, it will replace the old one.

Security was heightened ahead of the visit with the deployment of police in large numbers.

The PM also launched various road projects and will dedicate to the nation 2/4 laning of Madurai-Ramanathapuram section of NH-87; 4 laning from Panagudi to Kanyakumari section and two flyovers; the foundation stone for four laning of Madurai-Chettikulam Section of NH-785 and four laning of Chettikulam-Natham Section of NH-785.