Narendra Modi has made it a tradition to celebrate Diwali with the country’s troops in a border area and this year he’s spending the day with the 15 Corps in north Kashmir along the Line of Control (LoC). This is his second time celebrating Diwali with troops at the border. He said the government was working implementing the One Rank, One Pension scheme for the troops.
The PM flew to Srinagar, to the Gurez Sector in Kashmir’s Bandipora district on Thursday to meet with Corps soldiers and officers. He was received at Srinagar airport by Army chief Bipin Rawat.
This is Modi’s second Diwali in Kashmir . He spent his first Diwali as Prime Minister in Kashmir, in Siachen, following the devastating floods in the Valley.
PM Modi’s visit to Kashmir comes even after ceasefire violations by Pakistan have dramatically increased along the LoC in Bandipora and neighbouring regions.
Pakistan has violated the ceasefire more than 600 times so far this year, the highest in a decade, reports PTI. In 2016, there were 450 ceasefire violations in total. 8 civilians and 16 security personnel have been killed this year in such violations, a home ministry official said.
Meanwhile Indian and Pakistani troops exchanged sweets at the Attari-Wagah border on Thursday.
On the day of Diwali, the government announced a “Diwali gift” for the Armed forces as it reduced call rates on satellite phones – used by the forces in remote areas to Rs 1 a minute from Rs 5 a minute.
The move is said to cost the government Rs 3-4 crore per annum.
“It’s a Diwali gift from the ministry to soldiers. They can now talk to their families for longer durations without worrying about the charges,” said communications minister Manoj Sinha on Wednesday.