India's hand of friendship should not be taken for granted, Mukherjee warns Pakistan

New Delhi, Jan.25 (ANI): Giving his first Republic Day address to the nation on Friday, President Pranab Mukherjee, in an apparent warning to Pakistan, said India believes in maintaining peace and extending its hand of friendship with all of its neighbours, but added that this hand of friendship should not be taken for granted if its territorial integrity and sovereignty is threatened.

Referring to the recent incidents of ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) and the killing and mutilation of two Indian soldiers, Mukherjee said: "In the recent past, we have seen serious atrocities on the Line of Control on our troops. Neighbours may have disagreements; tension can be a subtext of frontiers. But, sponsorship of terrorism through non-state actors is a matter of deep concern to the entire nation."

"We believe in peace on the border and are always ready to offer a hand in the hope of friendship. But, this hand should not be taken for granted," he added.

On January 8, the two soldiers - Lance Naiks Sudhakar Singh and Hemraj Singh were killed near the LoC by Pakistani troops. The soldiers belonged to the 13 Rajputana Rifles.

Pakistan has denied India's claim that its troops crossed the Line of Control to ambush a patrol party in the Mendhar sector in Poonch district.

India maintains that this issue has to be sorted out bilaterally, and that it will not entertain third party interference. (ANI)

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