The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi on Diwali made a surprise visit to Siachen. He addressed officers and jawans of the Indian Armed Forces at Siachen Base Camp located at 12,000 feet.
Praising the valour and courage of Indian army jawans Modi said :” 125 crore Indians could celebrate Diwali today, and go about their lives in comfort, because the jawans stood guard at the borders, prepared to make every sacrifice for the nation. The nation is proud of all three wings of the armed forces,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister said he had come unannounced, and the jawans may be surprised, but one does not need to announce arrival when coming to one’s own (family).
“The jawans at Siachen work in one of the remotest places in the world. It is a rare opportunity to be called upon to defend the country in such difficult conditions,” Modi said .
Narendra Modi said that he comes to Siachen as a representative of the family members of the jawans who are busy serving Mother India on the borders.
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 Srinagar.
The Prime Minister said the Indian Armed Forces were unique – because while they spelt trouble for the enemy on the battlefield, they spelt life for all the countrymen affected by disasters or natural calamities. He recalled the immense contribution made by the Armed Forces during the recent floods in Srinagar.
The Prime Minister also appreciated the fact that women too were now contributing to the Indian Armed Forces in a significant way.
Sharing the pain and anguish of those who lose their loved ones in these difficult conditions, the Prime Minister said sometimes a body is found years later, and many still wait. He said one has to witness first-hand, the conditions at Siachen to appreciate the hardship that the jawans go through.
The Prime Minister assured the jawans that wherever they are, and serving or retired, the country stands shoulder to shoulder with them. He said their dreams and responsibilities are the entire country’s responsibility. He said he would do his utmost to ensure a life of dignity for them.
The Prime Minister said the promise of One Rank, One Pension had been fulfilled, and preparations were being made for a National War Memorial, that we could all be proud of. The Prime Minister wished the entire country “Happy Diwali” from the icy heights of Siachen, adding that as countrymen light diyas today, they should recall that the warmth of the earthen lamps has been fuelled by the sweat and toil of the jawans of the Indian Armed Forces. Let those jawans inspire the rest of the country to work towards achieving the dreams and aspirations of the common man, he added.
The Prime Minister later handed over a cheque for Rs. 5 lakh for the welfare of the jawans, and personally offered sweets to the jawans. He wrote in the visitors’ book, saying that the soldiers in uniform who guarded the nation’s frontiers in such difficult conditions were no less than ‘rishis’ and sages. The Prime Minister was at Siachen Base Camp for over an hour.