New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday announced that India had successfully targeted a live satellite on low earth orbit and registered itself as a space power. The mission, which was completed in three minutes, was named 'Mission Shakti'.
Modi also informed the nation that India was the fourth country to acquire this capability after United States, Russia and China. The Prime Minister said anti-satellite missile A-SAT was used in the operation.
The address to the nation came after the Cabinet Committee on Security met in the morning.
"India today established its name in space power. So far only three nations – US, China and Russia had done this… Just a few minutes back our scientists managed to launch an anti-satellite weapon A-SAT, which successfully targeted a live satellite on a low-earth orbit," Modi said.
Congratulating members of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), scientists and officials, Modi said the mission was an important step towards securing India's safety, economic growth and technological advancement. The capability was not against any country and India was against arms race in space, he added.
"In the world, the importance of space and satellite is just going to grow. In such a situation, it is equally important to protect these things. Today’s development will strengthen the country. Today I want to assure the world that the new capabilities we have achieved today are not against anyone. Today’s development does not break any international laws. We want to work only for the security of the 130 crore citizens of the country. Our main mission is to maintain peace and not create an environment of war. Today’s mission is an important step towards securing India's safety, economic growth and technological advancement," Modi said in his speech.
The advancement in space technology was important for the country since India had enough satellites that contribute in the fields of agriculture, disaster management, communication, weather, navigation, the Prime Minister added.
Congress while welcoming the step said that the project was initiated during the previous government's regime.
"Congratulations to @DRDO_India for the success of #MissionShakti, building blocks of which were laid during UPA-Cong Govt in 2012. India has been at forefront of space technology owing to vision of Pandit Nehru & Vikram Sarabhai. Proud moment for India!," Randeep Singh Surjewala, Congress spokesperson said on Twitter.
"Well done DRDO, extremely proud of your work.
I would also like to wish the PM a very happy World Theatre Day," Congress president Rahul Gandhi said.
With two weeks for the first day of polling in the Lok Sabha elections, opposition parties also criticized the government for violating the model code of conduct.
"Research, space management & development are a continuous process over the years. Modi, as usual, likes to take the credit for everything. Credit to those who really deserve it, our scientists & researchers. Today’s announcement is yet another limitless drama and publicity mongering by Modi desperately trying to reap political benefits at the time of election. This is a gross violation of Model Code of Conduct," West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said.
Sitaram Yechury, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM, wrote a letter to the chief election commissioner regarding the speech, questioning if the Election Commission had been given prior warning.
"Such a mission should normally be announced to the nation and to the world by the relevant scientific authorities like the DRDO. Instead, the Indian Prime Minister has taken the route of an address to the nation in making this announcement. This announcement comes in the midst of the ongoing election campaign where the Prime Minister himself is a candidate. This is clearly a violation of the Model Code of Conduct," Yechury said in his letter.
"I am sure that the entire country would like to know the special reasons why the Election Commission permitted the achievements of Indian scientists to be politically coloured during the course of the general elections," he added.