Armed forces have freedom to respond on LoC: Antony

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Under attack from opposition parties over his response on the killing of Indian soldiers, defence minister A.K. Antony Monday said the armed forces have the freedom to respond appropriately to a developing situation along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan.

“The armed forces have the freedom to respond to a developing situation there (along the LoC) appropriately,” Antony said, replying to questions after the launch of 37,500-tonne aircraft carrier INS Vikrant here.

Antony, however, refused to take questions on the volatile situation on the LoC and frequent violations of ceasefire by the Pakistan Army, saying Parliament is in session and he could not make a statement outside.

Antony also declined to comment on the change of stand over the killing of five Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops on August 6. With the Opposition launching a tirade against him for his statement on the issue in Parliament, the minister had to retract from it and squarely blamed the Pakistan Army for the “brutal” incident.

Antony had maintained that his first statement about the involvement of “terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan Army uniform” in the killing of soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch sector was based on information available at that time.

“When Parliament is in session, I have to first answer to Parliament,” Antony said.

On the programmes of the Navy, Antony said after much delay, the defence ministry has prepared a proposal for more submarines and sent it to cabinet committee on security for clearance.

About the much-delayed induction of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, now rechristened INS Vikramaditya, from Russia, Antony said, “I hope we will get the ship by the end of this year.”

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