In a strong message to Pakistan, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday asserted that every infiltration bid along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir from across the border would be thwarted.
“I am here as Raksha Mantri to take care of our borders to stop infiltration. I will keep doing that irrespective of what is happening there (in Pakistan). Our stand remains the same. Every attempt of infiltration will be thwarted,” she said.
Sitharaman was responding to a query on infiltration bids after the recent elections in Pakistan in which Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf emerged as the single largest party with the cricketer-turned-politician set to take over as prime minister.
About Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s statement that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had “buckled and prostrated herself in front of Chinese power” on the Doklam issue, she said Swaraj had comprehensively answered it in Parliament, and there was no point in repeating it.
Sitharaman said she stands by the statement of Swaraj, who had told Parliament that the India-China face-off over Doklam was resolved through “diplomatic maturity without losing any ground” and status quo has been maintained.
Gandhi had earlier tweeted, “Amazing how a lady like Sushma ji has buckled and prostrated herself in front of Chinese power. Absolute subservience to the leader means our brave jawan has been betrayed on the border.”
He had also tagged a media report on a US Congresswoman claiming China has “quietly resumed” its activities in the Doklam area and asserting that neither Bhutan nor India sought to dissuade it.
The claim, however, was denied by New Delhi.
Asked about the “update” on India’s move to procure S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems from Russia for the Indian Air Force and if it was pending because of the US issue, she said, “Well, update on 2+2 dialogue is that it is happening on September 6 in New Delhi.”
The US State Department had recently announced that the inaugural ‘two-plus-two dialogue’ between India and the US would be held on September 6 in New Delhi.
The US had postponed the much-awaited dialogue citing “unavoidable reasons”.
The dialogue is seen as a vehicle to elevate the strategic relationship between the two countries.
The announcement of the ‘two-plus-two dialogue’ comes amid prospects of India being imposed with unintended sanctions that are targeted at Iran and Russia.
Asked about reports that the venue of Aero India Show, which has traditionally been happening in Bengaluru, may be shifted to Lucknow, she said her ministry has not made any announcements.
“Well, there are no announcements made yet by the ministry of defence as regards AeroIndia Show,” Sitharaman said but cited examples of similar events happening elsewhere instead of the traditional venues.
“People in many places have been asking for that (AeroIndia Show) like the way in which the defence expo (happened)…More than 10 editions have taken place only in Delhi. We once moved to Goa.
“This time it was moved to Tamil Nadu. There are cities asking for it. So, we have not made any announcement as yet but sooner we will have an announcement,” she said.
She, however, said announcement should be within a reasonable time so that participants can reach the venue well in time.
Sitharaman declined to answer a query whether Hindustan Aeronautical Limited would suffer due to the Rafael aircraft deal, saying Parliament was in progress.
(With PTI inputs)