NEW DELHI :
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said the Indian Navy had a crucial role to play in making India a $5 trillion economy by 2025, helping create a “stable and balanced environment" around the country’s periphery and keeping India’s sea lanes of communication (SLOC) open for trade.
In his address to the three-day biannual naval commanders’ conference in New Delhi, Singh lauded the Indian Navy for its swift deployment and escort operations in the Gulf of Oman in May and June, protecting Indian oil tankers after attacks on some vessels in the wake of spiralling tensions between Iran and the US.
“Escorting Indian Flagged Merchant Vessels through this energy lifeline of the country during ‘Operation Sankalp’, the Navy has emphatically reiterated its ability to defend India’s critical national interests," he said referring to the deployment that took place after the US withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
On the threat of terrorism faced by India, Singh said after the 2008 Mumbai attack, the Indian navy had “made concerted efforts to strengthen security and stability of our waters and coastal regions, and enhance inter-agency cooperation and coordination." He urged the navy’s top officers to continuously review procedures and strengthen the coastal security framework to deal with emerging threats and challenges, effectively. The 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks were executed by 10 terrorists of the Laskhar-e-Toiba group who set sail from Karachi and landed in Mumbai after sailing through Indian waters undetected. The Indian Navy has since then put in place many measures including increased patrolling with sea and air assets to ensure India’s coastline is secure. It has in particular activated a coastal radar system that allows monitoring of ships and vessels in its area of influence.
In his speech, Singh also commended the Indian navy’s anti-piracy role in the Gulf of Aden since 2008 which he said “have been successful in safeguarding our maritime interests, and contributed immensely to maintaining maritime security of the region."
Later speaking to reporters, Singh noted that India had never been the aggressor but its armed forces are capable of responding to threats. India, he said, has never been "offensive".
India’s “character is such that it has not attacked any country nor conquered even an inch of land belonging to another nation," Singh said.
The comments come days after India took out terrorist launch pads situated in Pakistan occupied Kashmir after Pakistan opened fire on Indian troops killing two personnel in Kashmir’s Tangdhar region on Sunday.