SRINAGAR: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday flew to Siachen Glacier at the start of his visit to Jammu and Kashmir and expressed solidarity with troops deployed at the world's highest battlefield.
"From the icy heights of the Siachen Glacier and with the brave jawans and officers of the armed forces, I wish all of you a Happy Diwali," Modi said in a tweet.
From the icy heights of the Siachen Glacier & with the brave Jawans & Officers of the Armed Forces, I wish all of you a Happy Diwali.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 23, 2014
"Perhaps this is the first time a prime minister has got the wonderful opportunity of spending time with our jawans on this auspicious day of Diwali."
He also extended, from Siachen, Diwali greetings to President Pranab Mukherjee, the commander in chief of the armed forces. "Am sure this would be among the most unique greetings Pranabda received."
Every Indian stands "shoulder to shoulder" with soldiers posted in Siachen Glacier, Modi said earlier.
Am going to Siachen with a message from each and every Indian to our soldiers- that we stand shoulder to shoulder with you!— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 23, 2014
"Everyone is aware of the extreme conditions at Siachen. Overcoming every challenge our soldiers stand firm, protecting our motherland.
"Be it the altitude or bitter cold, nothing deters our soldiers. They stand there, serving our nation. They make us truly proud.
"Am going to Siachen with a message from each and every Indian to our soldiers: that we stand shoulder to shoulder with you," he added.
Siachen glacier is the world's highest battlefield at an altitude of 5,400 metres. Its ownership is disputed by Pakistan.
Modi will visit Srinagar to meet victims of the recent floods that ravaged the Kashmir Valley and the Jammu region.
As Modi flew to Siachen, Pakistan Rangers fired at Indian positions on the International Border in Jammu region some 365 km away while a strike called by separatists hit life in Srinagar and the Kashmir Valley.
A police officer said that Pakistan Rangers fired at the Narain border post of the Border Security Force at Ramgar in Samba district.
The firing started at 10.30 a.m. The BSF retaliated. But no casualty or damage was reported in India.
Over 30,000 residents of border villages in Jammu and Kashmir are still living in relief camps after fleeing their homes following Pakistani shelling that started Oct 6.
Indian and Pakistani forces have been routinely firing at and shelling each other in recent times both along the International Border as well as the Line of Control (LoC).
Meanwhile, public buses went off the roads in Srinagar Thursday but private vehicles and autorickshaws plied though in fewer numbers.
Most shops and businesses were shut in Srinagar, the urban hub of a dragging separatist campaign that has claimed thousands of lives in Jammu and Kashmir since 1989.
Police and paramilitary personnel were deployed in visibly large numbers all across Srinagar.
Motorists were asked to show identity papers and pedestrians were frisked at random.
Separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani accused Modi of rubbing "salt on our wounds" by visiting Kashmir on Diwali but not extending Eid greetings to Kashmiri Muslims.
Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) leader Yasin Malik said Modi was "politicising a human tragedy" -- a reference to the prime minister's planned meetings with victims of the recent floods in the valley.