SRINAGAR: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday celebrated Diwali with Army personnel deployed in Siachen, the world’s highest battlefield. “I came to celebrate my first Diwali as Prime Minister with you. I am happy to be among my own people,” he said while addressing men and officers at the Siachen base camp at a height of over 12,000 feet. He stayed at the base camp for over an hour.
While praising the valour and courage of the soldiers, Modi said, “The soldiers’ 24x7 vigil makes it possible for 125 crore Indians to celebrate Diwali happily. Your dreams and responsibilities are the responsibility of us all. The entire nation stands shoulder to shoulder with you.”
“People live their lives in comfort because the jawans stand guard at the borders, prepared to make every sacrifice for the nation,” he said, adding that the country is proud of all three wings of the armed forces. Modi said he had come unannounced and his visit was not prepared in advance. “I have come unannounced, and the jawans may be surprised, but one does not need to announce arrival when coming to one’s own (family).”
He said he is privileged that his first Diwali as Prime Minister will be spent partly with the jawans of Siachen, and partly with those affected by the floods in Kashmir.
He further said he shares the pain and anguish of those who lose their loved ones in these difficult conditions. “Sometimes a body is found years later, and many still wait. One has to witness first-hand the conditions at Siachen to appreciate the hardship that the jawans go through.”
Assuring to fulfil the needs of the soldiers, wherever they are, serving or retired, Modi said preparations were on for a ‘National War Memorial’ that all Indians could be proud of. Later, he handed over a cheque of `5 lakh for the welfare of the jawans, and personally offered sweets to them. “The soldiers who guarded the nation’s frontiers in difficult conditions were no less than sages,” he wrote in the visitors’ book.