Union defence minister Rajnath Singh in a detailed interview with ANI Editor Smita Prakash spoke about the recent situations plaguing the country.
Talking about India’s capability and power to deal with external threats to its security, Singh said “anyone who causes trouble will not be spared”.
Adding no “meaningful solution” has emerged during the military level and diplomatic level talks with China to resolve the LAC standoff, he said there can be no reduction of troops in the area. India won’t “spare anyone causing trouble on borders”, he explained.
The statement comes a day after IAF chief RKS Bhadauria said China has deployed heavily along the border in eastern Ladakh to support its army.
Tensions between the two countries have been at an all-time high for over six months now, after Indian and Chinese troops clashed at Galwan Valley on June 15-16.
Talking about the expansionist goals of Beijing, Singh said: “If a country is expansionist and tries to occupy our land, occupy a piece of our land, then India has the capability and power to not let its land go into anyone’s hand, whether it is any country of the world.”
New Delhi has been stressing on total disengagement, de-escalation and restoration of the status quo in all areas east of Ladakh prior to April. However, both countries have failed to arrive at a solution so far.
“It is true that in order to reduce the standoff between India and China, talks were taking place on a military and diplomatic level. But no success has been achieved so far. There will be a next round of talks on a military level which can take place anytime. But no meaningful outcome has come and there is status quo,” Singh said.
“I don’t think that status-quo is a positive development at all. Talks are on and they result in a positive outcome, that is our expectation,” he added.
So far, eight rounds of talks — the last one in Chushul in November — have ended without any conclusion. The two Asian countries have agreed to set an early date for the ninth round of meeting between the senior commanders.
The minister also spoke about the June Galwan clashes incident, which resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers in eastern Ladakh.
Singh said when he visited the soldiers in eastern Ladakh after the incident, the troops were in high morale. “The morale of our troops was and is high. The restraint, valour and bravery they have exhibited this time, the more it is praised, it is less.”
Speaking about the possibility of another Galwan-like incident with China refusing to pull back from the disputed border, the BJP leader said the Indian Army will not allow “the country’s pride to be dented”.
During the interview, Singh also spoke about the ongoing farmers’ protest against the three farm laws passed by the Narendra Modi government in September.
Calling himself the son of a farmer-mother, he said the new laws were in favour of the farmers.
He also hit out at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for targeting the government over the agri laws. Singh said he knew more about agriculture than the Congress leader.
“Rahulji is younger to me and I know more than him about agriculture. Because I have been born from the womb of a farmer-mother. I am the son of a farmer and we cannot take decisions against the farmers. Our Prime Minister was also born from the womb of a poor mother. I want to say this only and there is no need to say anything else,” headed.
The remarks came ahead of the sixth round of talks between the Centre and the farmers’ union that is currently underway in Delhi.
The former agriculture minister said farmers should hold clause by clause talks on the laws and that the government was ready to make amendments if there is a need to do so. However, he added the talks should not be held with a “yes or no” mindset.
Naxals or Khalistani remarks
Singh strongly disapproved of remarks that branded the protesting farmers as “Naxals” or “Khalistanis” and said “allegations should not be made by anyone” against them.
Noting the farmers are “annadatas” and “backbone of the economy”, he said he was hurt by derogatory remarks against Prime Minister Modi during the protest and said that the Prime Minister is not just a person but an institution.
He added that Modi had been the chief minister of Gujarat for 14 years before he came to the top post because of the support and affection of the countrymen.
Justin Trudeau’s comments
The minister strongly objected to the remarks made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in November about the farmers’ protest. Singh said no leader of a country should speak about India’s internal affairs.
UP ‘love jihad’ bill
During the interview with ANI, Singh also spoke about the “anti-conversion” legislation passed by the Uttar Pradesh government last month.
Explaining he personally was not in favour of conversion for marriage, he added: “I want to ask why there should be a conversion. The practice of mass conversions should stop. As far as I know, in the Muslim religion, one cannot marry someone from another religion. I personally do not approve of conversion for marriage.”
The statement came two days after 104 former IAS officers wrote to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath demanding the “illegal ordinance be withdrawn forthwith”.
Under the ‘love-jihad’ law (Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020), a marriage will be declared shunya or null and void if the “sole intention” was to “change a girl’s religion”.
Violations will attract a jail term of up to 10 years.
The UP police has so far registered 14 cases and made 15 arrests, of whom 49 are in jail.
Jammu and Kashmir DDC polls
Rejecting allegations of the NCP and the PDP that there was no “level-playing field” in the recently concluded DDC election, the defence minister said “terrorism and separatism were defeated” in local body elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
“There was a level playing field. Everyone was free. Nobody was under detention and were free to move about. But the results which came out of the local bodies and gram panchayat polls have made it clear that terrorism and separatism were defeated and democracy won in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.