Bhopal: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday inaugurated `Shaurya Smarak`, a war memorial dedicated to the Indian soldiers, and lauded the humanitarian work undertaken by the defence personnel in times of natural or man-made calamities.
Be it the Uttarakhand floods of 2013 or the Kashmir floods of 2014, the Indian Army did a commendable job in saving thousands of lives, Modi said in Bhopal.
"In Kashmir, our soldiers rescued -- and provided humanitarian aid to -- thousands of people without giving a thought that these are the same people who throw stones at the Indian forces," he said.
"Sometimes these stones can be fatal. But despite that, our soldiers did not go into who did what to them in the past. They just saved the lives of their fellow countrymen," the Prime Minister said while addressing a meeting of former servicemen at Lal Pared ground here.
He reminded the audience that the uniformed men armed with weapons also had a humane face.
"The first image of a soldier may be that of a uniformed person with bloodshot eyes, carrying weapons and looking for enemies, but the same soldier has a very humane face too," Modi said at the 'Shaurya Samman Sabha'.
He said the Indian Army may not be the strongest in the world, but it certainly is on the top on the parameters of humanity, discipline, conduct and behaviour with civilians.
Speaking on humanitarian activities undertaken by the Indian soldiers across the globe, the Prime Minister said: "Terrorism in west Asia has taken an ugly shape. Thousands of Indians were stranded in Yemen and their lives were hanging between life and death. Our armed forces brought out more than 5,000 Indians and many foreigners, including Pakistan`s citizens, safely out of Yemen."
"The Indian forces never hesitated in giving their lives for the sake of humanity. In both the World Wars, more than one and a half lakh Indians soldiers died. The world is forgetting the sacrifices of our jawans; unfortunately, we also forget it some times," he added.
Modi said high morale is the biggest weapon of any Army, which comes from the backing of 125 crore Indians. "Our Army doesn`t talk, but displays valour."
Speaking on the `One Rank One Pension` (OROP) issue and anomalies in the seventh Pay Commission, the Prime Minister said: "For the last many decades, the armed forces are demanding OROP. Previous governments in very sophisticated words have been promising the armed forces fulfilment of their demand for OROP. We fulfilled that demand."
He said till date, Rs 5,500 crore had been disbursed in instalments in this regard.
PM Modi also said that his government is making effort to make India self-reliant in defence production. “I am sure a day will come when we will also export weapons,” said the PM.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan also addressed the gathering.
Underlining that the country has no dearth of valour, Parrikar hailed soldiers for displaying their extraordinary courage to the whole world on September 29.
Meanwhile, Chouhan said: “We are grateful to our brave soldiers. Shaurya Smarak is not just a Smarak, it's a temple of their bravery.”
Railway stations, airports, bus terminals, important markets and localities in the city were secured ahead of the high-profile visit. Vehicles were screened at different checkpoints to ensure no untoward incident occur.
The administration also issued a circular asking all government and semi-government offices to suspended work post 3 pm.
The Prime Minister arrived at the Bhopal Airport at 4.05 pm. He was received by Madhya Pradesh Governor OP Kohli, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.
Modi will leave for Panaji to attend the BRICS meet.