Defence Minister Rajnath Singh speaks during a function honouring the war heroes of 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War in Guwahati.

While talking about the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said that the removal of AFSPA from many areas of the North-east was the result of durable peace and stability in the region.

The Defence Minister was addressing over 300 war veterans, Veer Naris and their families in a felicitation ceremony organised by the Government of Assam to honour the valour and sacrifice of the bravehearts who fought the enemy and ensured victory in the 1971 war.

Rajnath Singh said, “Some people believe that the Indian Army does not want AFSPA to be removed. I want to say from this forum that the Army has a minimal role in internal security. The Army wants the situation to become completely normal in Jammu & Kashmir so that AFSPA can be removed from there as well.”

The minister felicitated the veterans of the 1971 Indo-Pak war at a function in Guwahati, Assam.

Lt Col Quazi Sajjad Ali Zahir (Retd), a Bangladeshi veteran of the 1971 war who was awarded with a Padma Shri was among those present. Some of the veterans of the 1965 war were also in attendance.

In his address, Rajnath Singh also expressed his happiness at meeting the war heroes and Veer Naris and paid tribute to those who made the supreme sacrifice in the service of the nation. He described the veterans as important assets of the nation who are an inspiration to every Indian. “An in-service soldier is India’s strength and a veteran is an ever-lasting inspiration to stand by that strength,” he said.

He paid homage to Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, General Jagjit Singh Arora, Lt Gen JFR Jacob, Major General Sujan Singh Uban and Air Chief Marshal IH Latif for leading India to a historic triumph in the 1971 war. “Our forces in the 1971 war comprised soldiers from every religion. But that did not win us the war. It was the strong thread of Indianness that held our soldiers together which ensured our victory,” he said.