Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the army will never "forgive" the country if it is found "sleeping" when it should be awake, in comments that come against the backdrop of the recent surgical strikes.
He asserted that the army does not believe in speaking but in displaying its valour.
"Our army is happiest when we sleep in peace. They have no complaint. But they will never forgive us if we sleep when we should be awake. Unfortunately, we have been found sleeping when we should have been awake.
"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. We have to keep alert always. It will be injustice to the army if we sleep away when we have to be awake," he said without elaborating.
Addressing ex-servicemen and their families at the inauguration of 'Shaurya Smarak' (memorial to valour) here, he devoted his speech hailing the role of armed forces and their spirit of sacrifice in adverse situation.
"Our army does not speak but displays its valour. When I would say this earlier, they (critics) would tear my hair out. They would say Modi is sleeping and doing nothing. Like our army which does not speak but displays its valour, our Defence Minister also does not speak…" he said with a pause as the audience broke into applause with some raising patriotic slogans.
Lauding the valour and humaneness of armed forces, he referred to their relief and rescue operations in Srinagar during the floods two years ago despite the violence they face from the stone-pelting mobs.
"When massive floods hit Srinagar two years ago, the government found it difficult to deal with the situation and the country saw that our jawans were toiling to save people's lives.
"They never thought these are the same people who pelt them with stones, breaking their head and damaging eyes. The attack is sometime so severe that they even face death," Modi said, praising armed forces' rescue efforts in Kashmir.
He also highlighted their relief work during other natural disasters and recalled their efforts in Uttarakhand, which was hit by massive floods in 2013.
Recently, they rescued over 5,000 Indians and people from other countries, including Pakistan, from war-hit Yemen, he said.
"Even in international peacekeeping operations, Indian forces have served for long," he said.
On the occasion, he also asserted that his government has fulfilled all the promises it had made while rolling out OROP for ex-servicemen, saying over Rs 5,000 crore has already been distributed to them.
Attacking previous Congress governments without naming, he said they made tall claims but never fulfilled them. "Some governments were so clever that they even made budgetary provisions of a meagre Rs 500 crore," he said, citing figures for monetary benefits to retired soldiers following the OROP implementation.
"We have promised to pay the money due to forces in four instalments under OROP and we are doing so," he said, adding, "I am content that we are keeping our promises."
Praising the 'shaurya smarak', he said it is like a pilgrimage site.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan called Modi 'super manav' (super human) who is working to make India a strong country.
Defence Parrikar Manohar Parrikar recalled there was never lack of valour in the country and cited examples of Shivaji and Maharana Pratap.
"The entire world has seen the valour of our soldiers… September 29 was yet another example of the bravery of Indian soldiers," he said, making a reference to the date of surgical strikes.