Bhopal: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday inaugurated 'Shaurya Smarak' in Bhopal and lauded the humanitarian work undertaken by the defence personnel in times of natural or man-made calamities.
Addressing ex-servicemen and their families at the inauguration of a war memorial, the PM said the Army will never "forgive" the country if it is found "sleeping" when it should be awake, in comments that come against the backdrop of the recent surgical strikes.
He asserted that the Army does not believe in speaking but in displaying its valour.
"Our Army is happiest when we sleep in peace. They have no complaint. But they will never forgive us if we sleep when we should be awake. Unfortunately, we have been found sleeping when we should have been awake.”
"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. We have to keep alert always. It will be an injustice to the Army if we sleep away when we have to be awake," he said without elaborating.
The PM devoted his speech hailing the role of armed forces and their spirit of sacrifice in an adverse situation.
"Our Army does not speak but displays its valour. When I would say this earlier, they (critics) would tear my hair out. They would say Modi is sleeping and doing nothing. Like our Army which does not speak but displays its valour, our Defence Minister also does not speak..." he said with a pause as the audience broke into applause with some raising patriotic slogans.
Modi said the ancestors in hundreds of years of India's history never waged a war to capture a country.
"But if it comes to fighting for values and ideals, India is never found wanting," he said.
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.
Lauding the valour and humaneness of armed forces, he referred to their relief and rescue operations in Srinagar during the floods two years ago despite the violence they face from the stone-pelting mobs.
"When massive floods hit Srinagar two years ago, the government found it difficult to deal with the situation and the country saw that our jawans were toiling to save people's lives.”
"They never thought these are the same people who pelt them with stones, breaking their head and damaging eyes. The attack is sometimes so severe that they even face death," Modi said, praising armed forces' rescue efforts in Kashmir.
He also highlighted their relief work during other natural disasters and recalled their efforts in Uttarakhand, which was hit by massive floods in 2013.
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, ethics and behaviour towards 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."
"Even in international peacekeeping operations, Indian forces have served for long," he said.
On the occasion, he also asserted that his government has fulfilled all the promises it had made while rolling out OROP for ex-servicemen, saying over Rs 5,000 crore has already been distributed to them.
Attacking previous Congress governments without naming, he said they made tall claims but never fulfilled them.
"Some governments were so clever that they even made budgetary provisions of a meagre Rs 500 crore," he said, citing figures for monetary benefits to retired soldiers following the OROP implementation.
"We have promised to pay the money due to forces in four instalments under OROP and we are doing so," he said, adding, "I am content that we are keeping our promises."
He also highlighted the Centre's efforts to ramp up defence production in India and made it self-reliant in the field. "I have been working on this for the last two years and I am confident that a day will come soon when India will not only become self-reliant but also export weapons... We have a lot of talent."
Praising the armed forces for their bravery, he said they are also among the first ones across the world when judged on the yardsticks of discipline and concern for fellow human beings.
Praising the 'shaurya smarak', he said it is like a pilgrimage site.
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.