Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday celebrated Diwali with jawans of the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Indian Army and Dogra Scouts in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. Addressing the soldiers, Modi said, “It’s when you guard the border, people sleep without fear. If you were not there, people would not have been sleeping comfortably.
Modi also said its was not that he came to celebrate Diwali with soldiers for the first time after becoming the prime minister. “When the earthquake devastated Gujarat in 2001, then also I celebrated Diwali with the victims of earthquake. Everyone wants to celebrate Diwali with their dear ones. That is why I have come here in between you people.”
— ANI (@ANI_news) October 30, 2016
Modi also made an unscheduled trip to a village, Chango, and said he was “deeply touched by the impromptu reception and their joy”.
Dressed in olive green, the Prime Minister interacted with men from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the Dogra Scouts and the army at Sumdoh. Sumdoh, some 330 km from Shimla, is located on the border of Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti districts.
— ANI (@ANI_news) October 30, 2016
Mingling freely, Modi went up to the soldiers holding a plate of sweets. At least one soldier offered him a sweet in return, much to the joy of everyone.
He was accompanied by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and the Army chief, General Dalbir Singh Suhag.
The Prime Minister also met personnel of the General Reserve Engineering Force (GREF), a wing of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) that maintains highways, at Sumdoh, an official said.
Modi then spent some time with the locals in Chango village in Kinnaur district, known for its delicious apples.
Villagers taken aback by the Prime Minister’s arrival raised slogans hailing him. Dressed in warm clothes, Modi spent time with the residents of the village including women and children.
He also posed with everyone in a group photograph, with the mountains providing a majestic background.
The Lahaul-Spiti district, spread over 13,835 sq km, is a place of remote, untouched beauty with just 31,528 people. The climatic conditions are harsh as much of the land falls under a cold desert where the mercury drops below minus 20 degrees Celsius during winter.
The Prime Minister had celebrated his first Diwali after coming in power in 2014 with soldiers posted in Siachen. In 2015, he was at the India-Pakistan border in Punjab.
Earlier in the day, addressing the nation in the 25th edition of his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ radio programme, the Prime Minister talked about the Sandesh2Soldier campaign and said that he was flooded with messages full of wishes and love for the jawans.
“Dedicate this Diwali to our soldiers. #Sandesh2Soldiers hashtag was used so much by everyone and we were flooded with well wishes and love for jawans from citizens. Be it BSF, CRPF etc, our jawans are on duty and guarding us; that is why we are celebrating Diwali joyfully,” said the Prime Minister.
Modi, had last week, launched a campaign named “Sandesh for Soldiers” to send Diwali greetings to those serving on India’s borders. “I sent my #Sandesh2Soldiers. You could also do the same. Your wishes will certainly make our forces very happy. This Diwali, let us remember our courageous armed forces who constantly protect our nation. Jai Hind. When 125 crore people stand with soldiers, their power increases by 125 crore,” he tweeted then.