Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday paid tribute to Indian soldiers who fought the Kargil war in 1999, on the occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas.

“Twenty-one years ago on this day, our Army won the Kargil war,” Modi said in his “Mann ki Baat” radio programme. “India was then trying to have cordial relations with Pakistan, but it is said that it is in the nature of the wicked to have enmity with everyone for no reason.” The prime minister said Pakistan undertook the “sinister misadventure” to capture Indian land and to divert attention from its internal problems.

Earlier in the day, Modi had tweeted that he would be speaking about Kargil Vijay Diwas in his “Mann ki Baat” programme. “On Kargil Vijay Diwas, we remember the courage and determination of our armed forces, who steadfastly protected our nation in 1999. Their valour continues to inspire generations,” Modi tweeted.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also paid tribute to soldiers. “Kargil Vijay Diwas is a symbol of India’s self-respect, valour and steadfast leadership,” Shah tweeted in Hindi. “I bow to the soldiers who with their indomitable courage drove the enemy from the inaccessible hills of Kargil and waved the tricolour there again. The country is proud of the heroes of India...”

Singh said Kargil Vijay Diwas is “indeed the celebration of India’s proud tradition of outstanding military service, exemplary valour and sacrifice”. He said it is because of the valour of India’s soldiers that the country remains safe and secure. Singh also praised those who continue in service despite being disabled in battle.

“On the 21st anniversary of Kargil Vijay, I would like to salute the brave soldiers of the Indian Armed Forces who fought the enemy under the most challenging conditions that the world had witnessed in the recent history,” Singh added.

‘India’s coronavirus recovery rate much higher than other countries’

On the coronavirus pandemic in the country, Modi said India’s Covid-19 recovery rate was much better than that of many other countries. However, Modi warned the audience that the coronavirus was still spreading, that the threat was not over yet, and therefore, they need to be vigilant.

“We need to take all precautions,” the prime minister said. “Please ensure that you wear a mask, maintain ‘do gajj ki doori’ [a distance of six feet] and wash your hands.” He told the audience to think of soldiers fighting on the frontlines whenever they feel like taking off their masks.

The prime minister also praised Balbir Kaur, sarpanch of Trewa village in Jammu, who he said built a 30-bed hospital in her panchayat. “Mohammed Iqbal, municipal president in Anantnag built a sprayer machine at the cost of only Rs 50,000,” Modi added. “There are many such inspiring stories from the entire country.”

India reported 48,661 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, taking its overall tally to 13,85,522, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The toll rose by 705 to 32,063. More than 8.85 lakh people have recovered.

Follow today’s live updates on the coronavirus here