Prime Minister Narendra Modi "stopped" Ukraine-Russia war for four and a half hours to facilitate the return of 22,500 stranded Indian students from Ukraine after speaking with the leaders of Russia, Ukraine and the United States, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh claimed on Tuesday during his poll rally in Jharkhand's Khunti

Khunti (Jharkhand): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi "stopped" the Russia Ukraine war for "four-and-half- hours" to facilitate the return of over 20,000 stranded Indian students from Ukraine after speaking with the leaders of Russia and Ukraine, which no other world leader could do.

Addressing a rally in Jharkhand's Khunti in favour of BJP candidate and Union minister Arjun Munda, the Defence Minister said, "The war between Russia and Ukraine has been going on for more than two years. Both of them were firing bombs and missiles towards each other. Thousands of Indian children were there when the war started. Their parents here in India were worried about them... They met PM Modi and asked him to get the children back to India in whichever way possible. How was that possible amid the bombing?... PM Modi picked up the phone and dialled Russian President Putin and Ukraine President Zelenskky and spoke to them. The war was paused for four and a half hours and 22,500 of our children returned to India..."

Rajnath Singh's statement comes close to the heels of External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar's statement to a media outlet in March in which the latter had also claimed that PM Modi had called both Putin and Zelenskky to ensure Indian student's safe exit.

During his address in Khunti, the Defence Minister also said India would feature among the top three global economies after the US and China in three years. Earlier this month, Singh, while launching his Lok Sabha poll campaign, had made a similar statement from Ghaziabad in western Uttar Pradesh. He then claimed that PM Modi "even spoke to President (Joe) Biden of the US, which is considered the most powerful nation".

Meanwhile, Singh, during his speech today, accused the Congress of destroying the country's secular fabric, and playing politics of dividing Hindus and Muslims. Singh alleged that the grand old party was working against the welfare of the masses.

"Congress destroyed the secular fabric of the nation... But the BJP refrains from any discrimination on the basis of religion or caste," he said. Singh also said that the Congress was instrumental in scrapping reservation of SC/STs at Jamia Millia University in New Delhi and the Aligarh Muslim University.

(With Agency Inputs)