Less than a month after the Yangtze face off with the PLA in the Tawang sector, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said India will fight out any aggression and that India’s stand not to grab any country’s land should not be taken for granted.

The Defence Minister’s oblique jibe at China came during his trip to the Siyom Bridge on the Along-Yinkiong Road in Arunachal Pradesh, where he inaugurated 28 infrastructure projects of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), worth ₹724 crore.

“The world is witnessing a number of conflicts today. India has always been against war. It is our policy. Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi drew the world’s attention to that resolve when he said “this is not the era of war.” We do not believe in war, but if it is forced upon us, we will fight. We are ensuring that the nation is protected from all threats. Our Armed Forces are ready, and it is heartening to see that the BRO is walking shoulder-to-shoulder with them,” Singh said while inaugrating a bridge constructed by the BRO. Lt Gen Rajeev Chaudhry, DG BRO, was also present at the function along with other senior leaders of the Army.

Capacity enhancement

With Chinese troops unilaterally trying to alter the status at the LAC from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, leading to a situation of uncertainty at the border, India’s push to balance capacity enhancement was reflected in the projects inaugurated: 22 bridges, including the Siyom bridge; three roads; and three other projects in seven bordering States and union territories of the northern and north-eastern regions.

Eight of these projects are in Ladakh; five are in Arunachal Pradesh; four are in Jammu and Kashmir; three each are in Sikkim, Punjab, and Uttarakhand; and two are in Rajasthan. In addition, three telemedicine nodes—two in Ladakh and one in Mizoram—were inaugurated, the ministry stated. The minister described the projects as a testament to the concerted efforts of the government and the BRO towards the development of border areas in order to enhance the operational preparedness of the Armed Forces and ensure the socio-economic development of the far-flung regions. He asserted that it is the top priority of the government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to connect the border areas and ensure the development of their residents.

“Recently, our forces effectively countered the adversary in the northern sector and dealt with the situation with bravery and promptness. This was made possible due to adequate infrastructural development in the region. This motivates us even more for the progress of far-flung areas,” he said referring to December 9 face off between India and China in Yangtse area of Tawang sector, Arunachal Pradesh. The hand combat aided with clubs and spiked rods had left troops from both the sides injured.

Praising the organisation’s relentless efforts to support the armed forces and the local people, Rajnath Singh coined a new phrase: “BRO is the nation’s bro(brother)”. Quoting a famous phrase ‘It’s not the destination, it’s the journey’, he said the construction of road infrastructure in border areas is a journey for BRO and a strong and prosperous India should be its destination.