NEW DELHI: Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said that India will honour the Ramzan ceasefire but will retaliate to any unprovoked attack.
“When it is an unprovoked attack the Army was given the right to retaliate. We honour the ceasefire but of course, a margin was given to us when there is an unprovoked attack,” said Sitharaman while addressing a press conference on the occasion of the completion of four years of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.
"Terror and talks cannot go hand in hand,” she said, adding, “We shall keep our borders safe.”
The Defence Minister's statement comes two days after two BSF personnel and 13 civilians lost their lives in unprovoked and indiscriminate firing by Pakistani rangers in Akhnoor, Kanachak and Khour sectors of Jammu district on Sunday. The violation came barely a week after the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) of India and Pakistan mutually agreed to implement the ceasefire pact of 2003.
When asked if the Ramazan ceasfire has been successful, the Defence Minister said, “Defence ministry's role is not to assess whether ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir has been successful or not. It's our business to guard the border and we won't stop if we're provoked. We shall be alert and ensure that no unprovoked attack goes without response. It's our duty to keep India safe.”
Sitharaman further added that allegations of scam in the Rafael deal are baseless."There is no shortage of Defence ammunition today. Allegations of scam in the Rafael deal are baseless," she said.
When asked about the deal with Russia over the S-400 missiles, the minister said that deal is in final stages of negotiations. She added India has clarified to United States that India India and Russia have a continuous relationship. "Have told US that India-Russia defence ties go a long way back, CAATSA (Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) sanctions cannot impact this.”
Speaking on the issue over the opening cantonment gates to civilians: “The MOD order is for cantonments where civilians and Armed Forces live together. It doesn't apply to military stations. After all meetings, it was found that 850 roads were under closure in 62 cantonments. Among 850, 119 roads were closed without following the due procedure. Among those 119 only 80 roads have been opened."