Srinagar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today celebrated Diwali with troops posted along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir's Gurez Sector and lauded the soldiers for their penance and sacrifice saying he considers them his family.
In an unannounced visit, Modi arrived at Gurez this morning to celebrate Diwali with the army and BSF soldiers posted along the LoC, officials said.
He spent two hours with the soldiers in Gurez valley, which is shouting distance of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and has witnessed many gunfights with infiltrating militants in the past 27 years.
This is the fourth successive Diwali that the prime minister has celebrated with jawans on the border.
Chief of the Army Staff Gen B S Rawat and other senior army officers were present on the occasion. Modi offered sweets and exchanged greetings with the jawans, the officials said.
Addressing the jawans, he said like everyone else, he too wishes to spend Diwali with his family.
Therefore, he had come among the jawans of the armed forces, whom he considers to be his "family", he said.
Modi said he gets new energy when he spends time among the jawans and soldiers of the armed forces and appreciated their penance and sacrifice, amid harsh conditions.
The prime minister said that he had been told that the jawans present at the gathering regularly practice yoga.
He said that this would definitely enhance their abilities, and give them a sense of calm.
He said jawans, who leave the armed forces after completing their duty tenure, can become excellent yoga trainers subsequently.
The prime minister spoke of the new resolve that each Indian citizen must make for 2022, the 75th anniversary of independence.
He also encouraged the jawans to innovate, so that their routine tasks and duties become easier and safer and mentioned how best innovations are now being recognised and awarded at the Army Day, Navy Day, and Air Force Day.
Modi said the Centre is committed to the welfare and the betterment of the Armed Forces, in every way possible.
In this regard, he mentioned the implementation of One Rank, One Pension, which had been pending for decades.
Protecting the motherland, far from your loved ones, displaying the highest traditions of sacrifice, all soldiers at the nation's borders, are symbols of bravery and dedication, Modi said.
"I have 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," the prime minister wrote in the visitors' book.
"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," he added.