Prime Minister Narendra Modi started his Diwali day with soldiers in Siachen-the world's highest battlefield, where he made an unannounced and rare visit to boost the morale of the troops guarding the icy peaks.
In his address to the soldiers, the Prime Minister praised their valour and courage of the soldiers.
"It is because of your courage that 125 crore Indian are celebrating a peaceful Diwali in their homes," the Prime Minister told the soldiers.
He said that his unannounced visit was to `tell the soldiers that the nation stands shoulder to shoulder with them. "We have a peaceful sleep because you are living a tough life on the borders," he said.
The Prime Minister said that he feels proud of the soldiers. "The fact is that now even women soldiers are making us proud," he said.
"So many of our soldiers have died on the icy peaks in Saichen so many are missing, with families still awaiting their return. Those who have fought to attain India's freedom have made history but the fact that you sacrifice your lives to ensure that the country remains free is no less an achievement," the Prime Minister said.
Modi promised the soldiers that he will ensure that a "soldier has a dignified life even after he leaves the forces".
The Prime Minister said his government has kept the promise of one rank one pension and work is being undertaken on the issue.
"Your dream and responsibilities are the dreams and responsibility of the entire country," he added.
The Prime Minister also announced that a war memorial will be made in Siachen.
A little earlier the Modi wished Indians "Happy Diwali" from Siachen.
"From the icy heights of the Siachen Glacier & with the brave Jawans & Officers of the Armed Forces, I wish all of you a Happy Diwali," he tweeted.
From the icy heights of the Siachen Glacier & with the brave Jawans & Officers of the Armed Forces, I wish all of you a Happy Diwali.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 23, 2014
He also wished President Pranab Mukherjee, commenting that he was sure this would be among the "most unique greetings Pranab Da received."
PM Modi visited Siachen in a special Indian Air Force aircraft and was later taken by a heicopter to the base camp at about 12,000 feet. According to officials the prime ministers made an aerial survey of the glacier before meeting the troops. Army Chief Dalbir Singh Suhaag accompanied the prime minister.
Modi is the first prime minister to visit Siachen in almost 10 years. Manmohan Singh had visited the battle field last in 2005.
Separatists put under house arrest
Authorities clamped down on separatists in the valley and placed them under house arrest ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Kashmir.
Moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was placed under house detention in the morning fearing that he was planning an anti-Modi rally in downtown Srinagar, while hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani was placed under house arrest since Wednesday evening. JKLF chief Yasin Malik too was asked not to venture out of his house.
Separatists had called for a shutdown against Modi's visit to Kashmir. While Geelani described it as "cultural aggression", Malik accused him of playing politics over flood tragedy.
Meanwhile, Srinagar wore a deserted look ahead of the Prime Minister's visit. Shops and business centres remained closed and there was thin traffic on the roads.
Security agencies had sealed a large swathe of areas around the Raj Bhawan in Srinagar where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to reach shortly after his arrival in Srinagar.
The Raj Bhawan has kept out of bounds even for the media with restrictions on the movement on the roads leading to Raj Bhawan. Officials are tight lipped on Modi's exact schedule in Srinagar citing it as part of security drill.
Modi is likely to meet governor NN Vohra and chief minister Omar Abdullah at Raj Bhawan on arriving, followed by discussions with a delegation of traders and business leaders, before visiting a flood-affected locality.
According to sources, Modi will also visit a relief camp besides visiting places badly hit by the floods in the city.The prime minister is also expected to announce a special package for the victims of the floods in the state.
Politicians from the ruling National Conference (NC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) expect Modi’s trip to be more than a mere gesture. The NC is waiting to see how close the PM’s announcement comes to the proposed Rs. 44,000-crore package.
Omar Abdullah had met Modi in Delhi on September 23 and asked for a Rs. 44,000-crore compensation package from the Centre for the devastation caused by the worst floods to hit the state in a century.
(with PTI inputs)