Our soldiers stand firm to protect our motherland: Modi

Our soldiers stand firm to protect our motherland: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrated Diwali with soldiers at the icy heights of Siachen, the world’s highest battlefield, and later went to Srinagar to express solidarity with the people of flood ravaged Jammu and Kashmir.

In a series of early morning tweets, Modi told the world about his plan to visit Siachen before going to Srinagar.

“I am going to Siachen with a message from each and every Indian to our soldiers- that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you! After the Siachen visit I will continue with my scheduled visit to Srinagar to spend time with those affected due to the recent floods,” Modi tweeted in the morning. From the Siachen base camp, Modi called up President Pranab Mukherjee to greet him on Diwali. “I am sure this would be among the most unique greetings Pranab da has received,” Modi tweeted. The last visit by a prime minister to Siachen was in 2005.

Modi also wished the people on the occasion of the festival of lights. “From the icy heights of the Siachen Glacier, with the brave jawans and officers of the armed forces, I wish all of you a Happy Diwali,” he said.

After spending some time with soldiers in Siachen, the prime minister again tweeted: “Everyone is aware of the extreme conditions at Siachen. Overcoming every challenge our soldiers stand firm, protecting our motherland.”

Praising the country's sentinels, Modi said: “Be it the altitude or bitter cold, nothing deters our soldiers. They stand there, serving our nation. They make us truly proud.”

Praising their valour and courage, the prime minister said that 125 crore Indians could celebrate Diwali and go about their lives in comfort, because the jawans stood guard at the borders, prepared to make every sacrifice for the nation. Later, Modi also uploaded some of the pictures taken at Siachen on his twitter account.

“Lot of friends are asking about my Siachen visit. I am sharing some photos of the visit,” he tweeted.

The prime minister flew in a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft to Thoise (Transit Halt Of Indian Soldiers Enroute) at an altitude of 10,000 ft from where he was taken to the Siachen base camp at an elevation of about 11,000 ft in a helicopter.

The prime minister was accompanied by Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh. Ever since India and Pakistan decided to maintain ceasefire in 2003, there has been several overtures from Pakistan to demilitarise the glacier. The Army, however, steadfastly opposed all such plans as it holds the dominating heights on the Saltoro ridge and other areas on the glacier.

Indian troops have occupied these positions since 1984, pre-empting Pakistan’s ambition to send its troops to the glacier. Hundreds of soldiers have died and bodies are still being recovered after decades.

In July, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley told Parliament that in the last two and a half years, 50 soldiers died due to the harsh conditions. Nevertheless, India maintains more than 3,000 troops on the glacier where posts have been built at altitudes of up to 23,000 feet.
The vexed issue has its roots in Indo-Pak history as neither the Karachi Agreement of 1949 and Shimla Agreement of 1972 delineated the glacier beyond a point called NJ 9842.

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