Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday celebrated Diwali with jawans of ITBP, Indian Army and Dogra Scouts –serving at forward posts of Indo-China border in Kinnaur and Lahaul Spiti in Himachal Pradesh .
The prime minister landed at Chango, near Sumdo —a base camp of the Indian army and ITBP in Lahaul-Spiti and later traveled to Sumdo in Kinnaur district, where he spent 15 to 20 minutes with jawans and distributed sweets.
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The visit was kept secret till the prime minister’s choppers landed at Sumdo. “We had no information about Prime Minister‘s visit although there were media reports about him celebrating Diwali with ITBP jawans in Uttrakhand,” said Chief Secretary V C Pharka when contacted.
The jawans greeted the prime minister with slogans like Bharat mata ki Jai and vande matram on his arrival, charging the atmosphere of the two districts – Kinnaur and Lahaul Spiti.
Modi addressed the jawans and army personnel praising their valour and bravery. “Because of you who guard our borders, people sleep during the night. If you are not their on the borders, people can’t sleep,” he said .
He also referred to NDA government‘s decision on One Rank,One pension (OROP) recalling that it was one of his first moves on assuming the charge of Prime Minister. “The OROP was not about just Rs 200 or Rs 500 crore, but Rs 10,000 crore… After I became the PM, and decided that I had to do (implement) it, the entire government lost sleep over it… It was not possible for the government to pay in one go, so I requested the ex-servicemen to accept it in four instalments.
“The money will reach them in four installments. Nearly, Rs 5,500 crore has been paid as the first installment,” Modi said.
He said the issue had been pending for “40 years” as certain people in the previous governments “did not know” about OROP (scheme), and therefore “only Rs 500 crore was allocated” for the purpose.
Modi also said that many people thought that if the scheme was not implemented, a section of “ex-servicemen would turn against the government”.
On his return, Modi stopped at Chango village – the largest populated village of Kinnaur.
Ramlal Markande, a former BJP minister said the army officers had invited the local villagers at Prime Minister’s desire to meet them. Around 25 people including some women met him on roadside and offered a Himachali cap to Modi, which he happily accepted.
Prime Minister extended Diwali greetings to the villagers and discussed agriculture related issues.
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