NEW DELHI, Aug 15, Reuter: Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi warned neighbouring countries on Monday not to support Sikhs in the north Indian state of Punjab, which borders Pakistan,

In a speech delivered from the ramparts of Delhi’s red fort to mark the 41st anniversary of Independence from Britain, Gandhi said India’s military strength was at an all-time high and the nation had shown it could not be weaken by outside forces.

In a clear reference to Pakistan, he said India was concerned at the help Sikhs fighting for an independent homeland in Punjab were getting from across the border.

I hope those people (across the border) will understand the gravity of their action and not force India to take measures that they would later regret.

India, which is also concerned by Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities, has asked the United Nations to act for complete nuclear disarmament, Gandhi said.

His speech, delivered in Hindi, was greeted with only occasional applause, although there was a solitary demonstration of support.

As the Prime Minister appeared in front of the domed arches of the 350yearold fort, a small man dressed in traditional dhoti and white cap popped out of the thin crowd.

Hail Rajiv Gandhi, Hail Rajiv Gandhi, he screeched.

The Prime Minister launched into his speech while a security official clamped his hand politely over the enthusiast’s mouth and hustled him back to his seat,

Article extracted from this publication >> August 19, 1988