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Induction of Rafale jets big, stern message to those eyeing India’s sovereignty: Rajnath

In a clear reference to China over the tense border row in eastern Ladakh, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said the induction of five French-made multirole Rafale jets into the Indian Air Force is a “big and stern” message to those eyeing India’s sovereignty.

The first fleet of Rafale jets was formally inducted into the ‘Golden Arrows’ squadron of the IAF at the Ambala Air Force station in presence of a galaxy of dignitaries including French Defence Minister Florence Parly, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat and Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria.

“The induction of Rafale jets is a big and stern message for the entire world, especially to those eyeing our sovereignty. This kind of induction is very important for the kind of atmosphere that has been created on our borders,” Singh said at the ceremony.

He said Rafale is considered one of the best combat aircraft globally and the deal to procure the jets was a “game-changer” for India’s national security.

The Defence Minister said the government is determined to do “everything possible” to protect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Singh’s stern message to the neighbouring country came hours ahead of an expected meeting between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the margins of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) conclave in Moscow.

The much-anticipated talks are taking place against the backdrop of a massive spike in tension in eastern Ladakh triggered by fresh face-offs between the two armies along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

“In my recent foreign trip, I put the point of view of India in front of the whole world. I also made everyone aware of the resolve to not compromise India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity under any circumstances and we are determined to do everything possible for this purpose,” he said referring to his visit to Moscow.

The defence minister said India’s responsibility is not limited to its territorial boundary only and that it is committed to contribute towards peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region as well as in the Indian Ocean.

There has been mounting global concerns over China’s growing military assertiveness in both regions.