"Fight Terrorists But Don't Hurt Countrymen": Rajnath Singh To Army In J&K

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh added that such attacks "should not be taken for granted"

Rajnath Singh reached Jammu and left for Rajouri soon after


Amid the row in Jammu and Kashmir over the death of three civilians after they were detained by the Army for questioning, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told soldiers that they should not "make any mistake" that hurts an Indian.

Mr Singh is in the Union Territory to review the security situation, days after an ambush on two Army vehicles left four soldiers dead. It was in the aftermath of the terror attack that several civilians in Poonch were detained by the Army for questioning. Three of them were later found dead. A Brigade Commander has been asked to join the Army's probe into the deaths. The Army has said it has zero tolerance for violence against innocent civilians.

"You are the country's protectors. But I want to request you that besides ensuring the country's security, you also have the responsibility to win the hearts of the people. There should be no mistake that hurts an Indian," he said.

The Defence Minister said the forces should share a close bond with the people. "We have to win battles, eliminate terrorists, but a bigger objective is to win the hearts of the people. We will win wars, but we need to win hearts too. And I know you try your best to do this," he said.

Every soldier is like a family member to every India, he assured the troops.

"Every Indian feels this way. It is not tolerable to us if anyone casts an evil eye on you. Security and intelligence agencies play a crucial role in stopping such attacks. Whatever support is needed to step up surveillance will be provided by the government. The doors to our treasury are fully open," he said.

The Defence Minister added that such attacks "should not be taken for granted". "I know you all are alert, but I think more alertness is required. Your bravery makes us proud. Your sacrifice, your efforts have no parallel. And they are priceless. When a soldier dies a martyr, even if we pay some compensation, it cannot compensate for the loss. I want to assure you that the government is with you and your welfare and security are high on our priority list," he said.

The Indian Army, he said, is now seen as more powerful and well-equipped than before.

Earlier today, the Defence Minister arrived in Jammu and left for Rajouri soon after.

Mr Singh is likely to meet local residents and families of the dead civilians. Around 3 pm, he is expected to chair a high-level security meeting at Raj Bhavan in Jammu.

Security has been stepped up across Jammu for the Defence Minister's visit. Earlier, Army Chief General Manoj Pande visited the Union Territory to review the situation there.