Dhule/Yavatmal (Maharashtra): In a strong message to Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday that terror groups who perpetrated the Pulwama attack, that left 49 CRPF troopers dead, cannot hide and "will be punished" as the security forces have been given a "free hand" to tackle them.
Paying tributes to two Central Reserve Police Force troopers from Maharashtra - Nitin Rathod and Sanjay Rajput from Buldhana - and others killed in the deadly attack on Thursday, Modi said the country has "complete faith and pride" in our soldiers and security forces and their sacrifices will not go in vain.
"Wherever the terror groups and the perpetrators may hide, our security forces will flush them out and punish them," Modi said amidst cheers from the gathering of farmers and women.
When and how to accomplish this has been left to the security forces, he said but appealed to the people of the country to be "patient" and repose confidence in the armed forces "as the terror perpetrators shall not be spared at any cost".
Sharing the outrage of the entire nation, he said: "We are deeply pained by what has happened. Every drop of blood of our slain soldiers shall be avenged."
Without naming Pakistan, Modi said that now, "the neighbouring country" has become synonymous with terror. "It has sheltered terrorism, but today it is on the verge of bankruptcy."
He reiterated in both Dhule and Yavatmal that "the sins committed will not be forgiven or left unpunished", referring to the terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed which allegedly operates from safe havens in Pakistan.
In the worst-ever terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir since militancy erupted in 1989, a Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber on Thursday rammed his SUV packed with explosives into a CRPF bus on the Jammu-Srinagar highway in Pulwama district, killing at least 40 troopers on the spot. The toll reached 49 on Friday as several injured succumbed.
The attack has left the security establishment stunned as it created the biggest casualty of security personnel in a single day in peace time.
Earlier on Saturday, Modi dedicated the state-of-the-art Eklavya Model Residential School, Nanded for 420 tribal students, and handed over keys to select beneficiaries of homes built under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.
He also flagged off the overnight Ajni (Nagpur)-Pune train, laid the foundation stone for roads under the Central Road Fund in the region and distributed certificates and cheques under Maharashtra State Rural Livelihood Mission to women Self Help Groups.
In the afternoon, Modi inaugurated the Lower Panazara Medium Project, in Dhule, under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana with a total water storage capacity of 109.31 million cubic metres and irrigation potential for 7,585 hectares in 21 villages of the district.
He laid the foundation stone for the Sulwade Jamphal Kanoli Lift Irrigation Scheme which envisages lifting 9.24 TMC of flood water from the Tapi river - flowing through Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and finally Gujarat - in 124 monsoon days which would help irrigate 33,367 hectares of land in 100 villages.
Modi also laid the foundation stone for the Dhule City Water Supply Scheme under AMRUT which will ensure water availability and boost industrial and commercial growth.
The PM flagged off the overnight Bhusaval-Bandra Khandesh Express, and laid the foundation stone for the Dhule-Nardana railway line, Jalgaon-Manmad third line and inaugurated the Jalgaon-Udhna Doubling and Electrification rail project.
Governor C.V. Rao, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, several state ministers, local parliamentarians and legislators were also present on the occasion.