Prime Minister Narendra Modi saluted the courage of Indian soldiers on Sunday, asking citizens to dedicate the Diwali festivities to the forces that “have been sacrificing their everything for the safety and security of the country”.
In his monthly ‘Mann ki Baat’ programme on All India Radio, Modi urged the state governments and the people to find ways to defeat separatist tendencies and mentalities.
Modi met with the personnel of the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the army during a visit to Kinnaur district in Himachal Pradesh. “Jai Jawan! Jai Hind!” he said in a tweet accompanied by photos of the trip.
He also made an “unscheduled stop at Chango village, close to Somdu, to wish people on Diwali”.
In the 25th edition of his radio address, Modi said: “Their dedication and labour has overwhelmed me completely. Let us dedicate this Diwali to our armed forces.”
Modi’s address came against the backdrop of escalating hostilities between India and Pakistan at the border.
The Line of Control, the de-facto border with Pakistan, has remained tense since a militant attack on an army camp in northern Kashmir’s Uri in September that left 19 soldiers dead. New Delhi blamed Pakistan-based militants for the strike, a charge Islamabad promptly denied.
India retaliated to the Uri assault by carrying out what the government termed “surgical strikes” across the LoC and destroyed several militant launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
On Friday night, a Border Security Force trooper died in a freak accident as his rifle backfired while responding to Pakistan’s ceasefire violation in northern Kashmir’s Macchil sector. His death followed the killing of Indian Army soldier Mandeep Singh, whose body was mutilated by militants close to the border in the same sector.
“Every citizen of the country is proud of our soldiers,” Modi said in Sunday’s address.
“People from all walks of life sent messages of love and encouragement for our soldiers, just as they lit candles for their well-being,” the PM said in his over half-an-hour address, underlining that the #Sandesh2Soldiers campaign was met with enthusiasm.
“From students, villagers and traders to political leaders and sportspersons, everyone has sent a Diwali message for our soldiers,” Modi said.
“Be it BSF, CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force), Assam Rifles, ITBP, Navy, Air Force, our jawans are on duty and guarding us. That is why we are celebrating Diwali joyfully,” Modi said, touching upon the “grave hardships” of personnel posted in deserts and the Himalayas.