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Strong defence forces needed for territorial integrity: President

President Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday said India needs strong defence forces for not only ensuring peace but also safeguarding its territorial integrity.

Jodhpur: President Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday said India needs strong defence forces for not only ensuring peace but also safeguarding its territorial integrity.

Mukherjee, the Supreme Commander of Indian armed forces, was speaking after awarding Presidential standards or colours to two elite flying units of the Indian Air Force (IAF) here -- the 21st Squadron and the 116th Helicopter Unit.

"As a responsible nation, India is firmly committed to peace and stability for which we need an effective deterrence and a strong defence force.

"While the nation is striving for all-round economic growth and social empowerment of its citizens, we remain equally focussed on building our defence capability that safeguards our sovereignty and territorial integrity," he said while delivering his speech at the Air Force Station here.

Mukherjee arrived here yesterday for the event, his first domestic tour after over two months as he was suggested rest due to illness.

The President lauded the IAF for not only "safeguarding the sovereignty" of the country but for also undertaking massive relief operations in calamity-hit areas in the past.

"The nation is immensely proud of Indian Air Force and remains indebted to the air warriors for their selflessness and sacrifice," he said.

Talking about the two IAF units which were decorated today, the President said they have been awarded for rendering "selfless devotion, professionalism and courage in the face of adversity" and for this act, the nation honours them with a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation.

The first to be awarded, the 21st squadron, was formed in Ambala in 1965 with the Gnat Mk-I aircraft and the fighters of the unit have actively participated in the 1971 Indo-Pak war and the 1999 Kargil conflict.

The 116 Helicopter unit, which was also awarded by the President, was formed in 1967 at Sarsawa and it operates Chetak and the Light Combat 'Dhruv' choppers and the air combatants of this unit have undertaken numerous sorties for executing relief and rescue operations in various parts of the country.

The standards or colours are presented to those defence units which have rendered distinguished service, with courage and dedication, in the line of duty over a period of time.

During the event, witnessed by top IAF and defence officials led by Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, a number of IAF choppers like the Mi-17s, Bison, Mi-17V5 and the SU 30 MKIs participated in air manoeuvres over the sky of this Rajasthan town, an important Air Force base close to the Indo-Pak border.

The Air Warriors Drill Team and the chopper-borne 'Sarang' also displayed their skills and acrobatic stunts on the ground and in the air respectively.

From Zee News

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