Modi celebrates Diwali with jawans at Siachen

Modi celebrates Diwali with jawans at Siachen

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today paid a surprise visit to Siachen to celebrate Diwali with soldiers posted at the world's highest battlefield and hailed the role of the armed forces in securing the country.

Before reaching here, he went to Siachen early in the morning and spent more than an hour with the soldiers at a base camp situated at a height of over 12,000 feet.
He praised their valour and courage, saying that 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.

From the icy heights, he also extended Diwali greetings to President Pranab Mukherjee. Modi told the jawans that he had come unannounced, and they may be surprised, but one does not need to announce arrival when coming to one's own family.

"I have specially come on the occasion of Diwali to be with you. I am aware how it feels like to spend Diwali with your family. The happiness is different, but you are so involved in the devotion of your motherland that family is spending Diwali somewhere else and you are somewhere else guarding the motherland," he said.

"My coming to this place will not fill the void of your family members, but as a representative of 125 crore people... after being with you I feel proud and satisfied," Modi told the jawans.

This is Modi's first Diwali as Prime Minister which he decided to spend on the 18,875 ft glacier with soldiers braving tough conditions.

He said the issue of armed forces was an "emotional subject" for him and his government was committed to built a National War Memorial.

"How many decades have passed without One Rank One Pension. It was in my destiny that One rank One pension has been fulfilled, and preparations were being made for a National War Memorial, that we could all be proud of. The government is committed to the cause," he said.

Talking about the hardships faced by the armed forces, especially in the tough terrain of Siachen, Modi said he was himself able to witness the precarious conditions the soldiers were working in while making his journey to the icy glacier.

"There is nowhere in the world where soldiers are alert and guarding their motherland at the temperature of -30 and -40 degrees. No one has got the opportunity of guarding their motherland in these conditions," Modi said.

"As a pradhan sewak, I have been able to see the conditions faced by you by my own eyes, experience it. When I reached the heights, the doctors accompanying us were keeping a tab on me... checking my BP and oxygen. This shows that how precarious are conditions you live in," he said.

In the visitors' book, Modi wrote that soldiers in uniform who guarded the nation's frontiers in such difficult conditions were no less than 'rishis' and sages.
"The feeling of pride towards you is because every time, in every condition you are ready to live and die for the country. Today the country has a sound sleep because you are awake day and night. People can lead a life of peace because you face hardships.

"This has been the message of your life. And for this reason, let that be army, air force and navy... the whole country is proud of the armed forces," he said.

"For independence those who fought for freedom and those went to the gallows become immortal. They lived and died for independence. And you are those people who are everyday ready to sacrifice your life to ensure that the freedom remains and people live in peace. This sacrifice is not less. This brings us pride," he added in his address.

Modi noted that while the armed forces are busy guarding the country, it is responsibility of the country and the nation to realise the dreams and aspirations of its soldiers.

"Your dreams and responsibilities are the responsibility of us all. The entire nation stands shoulder to shoulder with you. I want to instill confidence in the jawans of my country who are posted in cantonments or on the border, who are serving or retired that 125 crore people are standing by you... Your dreams and aspirations are dreams and aspirations of this country.

"It is unacceptable to me that you have depend on others for anything after you are out of the force. It is my duty and desire that you and your family live with pride and respect after retirement," Modi said.

The Prime Minister also lauded the role of the defence personnel in rescue and relief work during natural calamities.

"The way forces pose a danger to enemies, in the same way our forces give life to us. There has been no natural calamity in which our forces have not participated... worked hard day and night.

"When Srinagar was hit by flood, the army jawans showed an exemplary work of humanity and sacrificed their lives in the process," Modi said. He added that in the precarious conditions many youngsters have given their lives in the icy mountains of Siachen.

"Till the time someone does not see these icy glaciers, he will not know the way our jawans work in the remotest parts of the country.

"Many slept pulling over a white snow blanket. Someone's body is recovered after 21 years. Don't know how many such families are there, still waiting for their loved ones," he said.

He added that Indian defence forces are known the world over for their discipline and now women too have started displaying their valour.

"There is a sense of respect among many forces about the jawans of our country because of their discipline and behaviour... because of their interaction with the common people. Women, although in small number, have started displaying their bravery and capability. This gives us a lot of pride," he said.

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