War necessary at times, those supporting terror cannot go unpunished: PM Modi

NEW DELHI: Making his first public address after the surgical strikes by the Indian Army in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday started with “Jai Shri Ram” and ended with a note of peace saying “our last refuge should remain with Buddha”.

While invoking the symbol of peace, he also said that yudh (war) at times becomes necessary to save humanity. “Hum yudh se Buddh ki ore chale jaaten hain, Yudh bhi kabhi kabhi zaroori hota hai. Yeh desh sudarshan chakradhari ka bhi hai, isi desh me charkha dhari Mohan ki pratigya ko bhi manta hai. Dono tarazuon par balance rakhna hai. (We move from war to Buddha. Sometimes war is also necessary. This country is also Lord Vishnu’s and also revers Mahatma Gandhi. We have to maintain the balance on the weighing scales),” he said addressing the gathering at Ramlila Samiti Maidan at Lucknow.

This is the first time that an incumbent prime minister has stepped out of Delhi for Dussehra celebrations and that too in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, at a time when the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is being accused of politicising the Indian Army’s surgical strikes.

Modi had earlier referred to this year’s Vijayadashmi as a “special one”. Drawing parallels between Ravana and modern-day terrorists and their supporters, he said: “We are at a point now where those who support terror or allow it cannot go unpunished.” “Terrorism is an enemy of humanity. Jatayu, in Ramayana, was the first to fight terrorism when he fought Ravana to save Sita’s honour. We should also fight terrorism like Jatayu,” he said.

Modi said that earlier the world never recognised terrorism as a problem. After 26/11, they have recognised it as a world problem. Sending a warning across the border, he said: “We can’t spare terrorists and those who support them.” Without naming Pakistan, he said those helping and providing shelter to terrorists cannot be spared, but made no reference to the surgical strikes. Making terrorism the central point of his over 20-minute speech, he said terror was the worst enemy of humanity and called upon the world community to speak in one voice against the menace.

Mentioning a TV picture of a Syrian girl which he said brought tears to his eyes, Modi said terrorism is the biggest enemy of humanity. “Terrorism does not have any boundaries. It is bound to destroy all…a need has arisen to root out those who spread terrorism. Those who help terrorists and provide shelter to them can no longer be spared,” he said.

The entire world is being destroyed…if you think that we are insulated against terrorism, we are wrong. It is a virus affecting our societies. All forces across the world have to talk in one voice and end it. It will not be possible to save humanity without eradicating terrorism.” The theme of this year’s Dussehra here was ‘destruction of terrorism’. In the run-up to the event on Tuesday, there have been many references to the surgical strikes by characters enacting Ramlila.

In a significant gesture, Modi was presented a Sudarshan Chakra, bow and arrow and a mace at the event, symbolising valour.

He also highlighted discrimination against the girl child and said it is an evil like Ravan. “We must kill this evil within us. We must not kill ‘Sitas’ of the 21st century. We must save the girl child. Look at how our daughters performed in the Olympics this year.” Before the PM’s speech, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the parliamentarian from Lucknow, told the audience: “The PM has proved to the world that India is not weak.”

He was referring to the cross-border strikes. For PM Modi’s visit, the traditional Ramlila in Lucknow’s Aishbagh was revamped. Instead of being open to everybody, 2,000 passes were sent to invitees.