Rajnath performs 'Shastra Puja' at key military base in Darjeeling district of WB

Rajnath Singh | PTI

New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday performed "Shastra Puja" (worship of weapons) at a key military base in Siliguri which is responsible for guarding the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in the Sikkim sector.

Chief of Army Staff Gen. MM Naravane and several senior officers of the Army were present on the occasion when the defence minister performed the puja at the Sukna-based headquarters of the Indian Army's 33 Corps.

The defence minister was scheduled to perform the puja at Sherathang, a high-altitude border area near the LAC in Sikkim, but he could not go there due to inclement weather, officials said.

Singh's "Shastra Puja' at the strategically important military base comes at a time when India and China are engaged in a bitter standoff in eastern Ladakh for over five months.

Referring to the standoff, Singh said India wants an end to the tension and restoration of peace. At the same time, he asserted that India's armed forces are dedicated towards fiercely protecting the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity and will not allow even an inch of its land to be taken away.

"India wants an end to tension and restoration of peace. I am fully confident that our Army will not let even an inch of India's land fall into the hands of others," he said.

Singh has been performing "Shastra Puja" during Dussehra for last several years, including during his tenure as the Union home minister in the previous NDA government.

Almost all formations of the Indian Army along the LAC are on a very high level of alert in view of the border row with China in eastern Ladakh.

India and China are locked in an over-five-month-long bitter border standoff in eastern Ladakh that has significantly strained their ties.

Both sides held a series of diplomatic and military talks to resolve the row.

However, no breakthrough has been achieved to end the standoff.

The defence minister arrived at the Sukna-based headquarters of the 33 Corps on Saturday.

In an address to a group of soldiers at the base on Saturday evening, Singh said India always tried to maintain good relations with its neighbours, but situations arose from time to time when its armed forces had to make supreme sacrifices to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.

The defence minister also reviewed the combat preparedness of the Army during a high-level meeting at the military base.

The Army has significantly bolstered deployment of troops and weaponry along the nearly 3,500-km-long LAC, including in the Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh sectors. PTI

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