‘One of our neighbouring countries is struggling with religious fanaticism, bigotry and narrow-mindedness,’ Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said at an event in Kolkata, without naming Pakistan

Lauding the socio-economic development ushered in by Bangladesh, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said Pakistan should introspect and learn a lot of things from India’s eastern neighbour.

“One of our neighbouring countries is struggling with religious fanaticism, bigotry and narrow-mindedness. The country itself is struggling with poverty, unemployment and terrorism and sometimes it tries to harass India also. That country needs to introspect and learn a lot from Bangladesh,” he said at an event in Kolkata. While Mr. Singh did not name Pakistan, his remarks were clearly directed at the western neighbour.

The Defence Minister said India as a neighbour was very happy that Bangladesh was moving fast on the path of development. Mr. Singh said Bangladesh had shunned religious fanaticism and taken the path to modernisation, moderation and secularism. “The kind of socio-economic development ushered in by Bangladesh is an example for several countries in the world,” he said.

Pointing out that Bangladesh had created an identity for itself in the region, Mr. Singh expressed the hope that in times to come Bangladesh would reach greater heights. “India has stood by Bangladesh in sectors like health, education, economy, connectivity and security and will continue to do so in the future,” he added.

Bangladesh’s 50 Years of Independence

The remarks by the Defence Minister come at a time when Bangladesh is celebrating 50 years of its Independence. In May this year, Union Home Minister Amit Shah visited West Bengal, inaugurated a ‘Maitri Sangrahalaya (Friendship Museum)‘ and while referring to the Bangladesh War of Independence, he had stressed on the contribution of India in the struggle.

Frigate Launch

Mr. Singh was in Kolkata to attend the launch of ‘Dunagiri’, a Project 17A frigate at Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) Limited. “If India is increasing its strength it is not only for itself but also for its friends,” the Defence Minister said, adding that India wanted friendly ties with all its neighbours.

Speaking about the crisis in Sri Lanka, Mr. Singh said India was trying to extend all possible help to its neighbour. “We are all aware of the difficult times through which Sri Lanka is passing through. COVID-19 and the crisis in Ukraine have affected us also. Despite that we are extending all possible help to our friend Sri Lanka,” he said. Mr. Singh also recalled that India had extended help to Nepal and the Maldives during the pandemic by providing medicines and other essential products.

The Defence Minister, while pointing out that the induction of the warship would augment the Indian Navy, said that “our Navy should be response-ready in the Indian Ocean region, and in times of domestic and international contingency, it must try to become the first responder”. “The Navy should also be ready to support our friends and partners in their times of need,” he added.

Indigenously built warship INS Dunagiri is named after a peak in Uttarakhand. It is the fourth warship of Project 17A which was launched in the river Hooghly on Friday. A total of seven Shivalik class frigates will be built for the Indian Navy under this project. Four of these are being built at Mazgaon Dockyard in Mumbai and the remaining three at the GRSE. INS Dunagiri is the second warship of P 17A Advanced Frigate built by the GRSE. The 6,600-ton guided missile frigates under the Project-17 A are the successors to the three-frigate Project 17, with improved stealth features, advanced weapons and sensors, and platform management systems.

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