Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) was, is and shall always remain an integral part of India, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said during the ‘Kargil Vijay Diwas’ event in Jammu on Sunday.

"We are committed to the resolution passed in the Parliament on PoK. PoK was, is and shall always remain an integral part of India. How is it possible that Baba Amarnath (Lord Shiva's form) is in India and Maa Sharda Shakti is across the Line of Control, " the defence minister said.

Rajnath Singh was referring to the Sharda Peeth, which has the ruins of a temple to the Hindu goddess Saraswati, also known as Sharda.

"A strong and confident new India is well-equipped to give a befitting reply to anyone who casts an evil eye. Making India a global superpower will be a fitting tribute to our fallen heroes," he said.

Abrogation of Article 370 New Dawn For J&K People

"The abrogation of article 370 has brought a new dawn of hope to the aspirations of the people of J&K. I appreciate the initiative of J&K People's Forum to celebrate Kargil Vijay Diwas. Our security forces have made supreme sacrifice for the nation. J&K, Ladakh became a war theatre soon after independence," the minister said.

Rajnath Singh said that the Kargil war underlined the dire need to achieve jointness and self-reliance in the defence sector. Setting up of Joint Theatre Commands and reforms to achieve self-reliance in defence are the steps taken in that direction, he added.

He also voiced the government's commitment to ensure jointness and Atmanirbharta in the Armed Forces, which is crucial to fighting future wars.

"We fulfilled the dream of Dr Syama Prasad Mukherjee. We abrogated article 370 and 35A," he said.

Lauding the courage of Brigadier Mohammad Usman, an Indian Army officer who was killed during the Indo-Pakistani War, Rajnath Singh said, "Brig Usman displayed great courage and bravery during 1947-48 war. If Brig Usman wanted, he could have gone to Pakistan. But he chose to commit himself to the service of mother India. I salute him."

India One of The Strongest Nations Now

"We are not the same India. We are one of the strongest nations now," he said.

"In 1962, China attacked India. I don't want to criticise the then PM Nehru. I respect all our PMs. I don't doubt any PM's intentions. Having said that, I want to say that I criticise policies. We faced defeat in 1962. We had to pay a heavy price. But our Army displayed immense courage and valour. We all remember Maj Shaitan Singh's bravery. We built war memorial at Rezang La," the BJP leader said, adding that no one can now dare to encroach upon our territory.

Pak Not Mending Ways

Rajnath Singh also stressed that India wants good relations with her neighbours.

"Pakistan faced a crushing defeat in 1971. Our forces made Pakistani forces to surrender. Pakistan is our neighbour. We want good relations with our neighbours. Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji used to say that we can change friends but not neighbours. But Pakistan is not mending its ways. Despite facing defeats in war, it resorted to proxy war. In 1998, we conducted nuclear tests. The entire world was against us. Vajpayee ji displayed great leadership," he said.

"Vajpayee Ji didn't buckle under international pressure during the Kargil War. We won the Kargil War and Pakistan had to bite the dust. I want to assure the nation that if any international power invades us, we will give a befitting reply and emerge victorious," the defence minister said.