Defence Minister A K Antony on Saturday assured that there won’t be a repeat of the 1962 India-China war and that the armed forces were confident of protecting the country against any such threat.
Paying homage to martyrs of the war on its 50th anniversary, Antony said, “I would like to assure the nation that India of today is not the India of 1962. Over the years, successive governments learning lessons from the past strengthened our capabilities and modernised our armed forces... We are confident the armed forces will be able to protect the border in event of any threat.”
He was talking to reporters on the sidelines of an event to honour the soldiers.
This was the first time the defence establishment officially honoured the dead and participants of the 1962 war.
On why it took 50 years for the government to honour the martyrs of the 1962 war, Antony said, “This is the 50th year and we thought this is the time the whole nation must pay our homage to the officers and jawans who lost lives to protect our border.”
Antony also said India was holding dialogues with China to find a solution to the long-pending border dispute and has established a mechanism to “immediately settle” any tension on the border.
Asked about criticism that the military leadership was not much involved in 1962, the Defence Minister said, “The major lesson is that we have to strengthen our armed forces to protect our borders. That we are doing.”
Tributes to the martyrs were also paid at several other places, particularly Arunachal Pradesh.
The state paid rich tributes to the hundreds of soldiers who laid down their lives in the Kameng and Wallong sectors during the war 50 years ago.
In Itanagar, Governor Gen (retd) J J Singh, a former Army chief, said while the soldiers put up a valiant fight in extremely tough conditions, the 1962 war was a lesson in strengthening the capabilities and modernising the Indian armed forces.
“The 1962 war has been a lesson in strengthening our capabilities and modernising our armed forces. The sacrifices of men in the call of duty have never gone in vain,” he said.
The Governor also recalled the sacrifices of the people of Arunachal Pradesh during the war.
Chief Minister Nabam Tuki in a statement described the war with China as “one of the most disastrous wars” in the history of India.