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Modi says jawans are his family, celebrates Diwali with soldiers in Gurez Valley

Zulfikar Majid, DH News Service, Srinagar, Oct 19 2017, 19:28 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to Army jawans at Gurez sector of Jammu and Kashmir. ANI Photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to Army jawans at Gurez sector of Jammu and Kashmir. ANI Photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday celebrated Diwali with soldiers near the Line of Control (LoC) in Gurez sector of north Kashmir's Bandipora district.

Like previous years, Modi’s Diwali date with troops was kept under wraps until the last minute. After spending two hours with the troops, Modi opened up on why he does come to meet them every year — his fourth such visit since he became the prime minister.

Offering sweets and exchanging greetings with the jawans, Modi said, “like everyone else, I too wish to spend Diwali with my family.” Therefore, he said, he had come to spend a few hours with the jawans whom he considers to be “his family.”

A statement from his office quoted Modi as telling the troops that he gets new energy when he spends time among the soldiers. He praised their penance and sacrifice amid harsh conditions.

Modi asked the jawans to regularly practice yoga, saying that it would definitely enhance their abilities and give them a sense of calm.

Jawans, who leave the armed forces after completing their tenure, can become excellent yoga trainers subsequently, he added.

He asked the jawans to innovate so that their routine tasks and duties become easier and safer. And the best innovative ideas will be recognised and awarded at the Army Day, Navy Day, and Air Force Day.

Modi said his government is committed to the welfare and the betterment of the armed forces “in every way possible.” In this regard, he mentioned about the implementation of One Rank, One Pension, which has been pending for decades.

Army chief General Bipin Rawat and other senior army officers were present on the occasion.

Modi wrote in the visitors’ book that: “I got an opportunity to spend the festival of Diwali with you. The presence of brave soldiers at the border, on this festive occasion, lights the lamp of hope and generates new energy among crores of Indians. To accomplish the dream of New India, this is a golden opportunity for all of us to work together. The Army too is a part of it.”

Earlier, there was speculation that Modi may spend time with the army and Indian-Tibetan Border Police soldiers at the China border in Uttarakhand during this Diwali.

Modi is visiting the Kedarnath shrine on October 20.

Last Diwali, Modi had spent time with soldiers in a remote village near the China border in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh.

After assuming office in 2014, Modi had celebrated his first Diwali with soldiers in Siachen. He also made it a point to be in Srinagar before his visit to Siachen to show solidarity with the flood victims in Jammu and Kashmir.

In 2015, he had gone to meet soldiers at the India-Pakistan border in Punjab.

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