Uttarkashi (Uttarakhand), Nov 8 (PTI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached Harsil near the India-China border in Uttarakhand to celebrate Diwali with Army and ITBP personnel on Wednesday. Greeting the jawans on the occasion, the prime minister said their devotion to duty in the remote icy heights, is enabling the strength of the nation, and securing the future and the dreams of 125 crore Indians, a statement from his office said.
He said that Diwali is the festival of lights, it spreads the light of goodness and dispels fear. He said that the jawans, through their commitment and discipline, are also helping to spread the sense of security and fearlessness among the people. The prime minister recalled that he has been visiting soldiers on Diwali ever since he was the chief minister of Gujarat. He also spoke of his interactions with the jawans of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), years ago when he was part of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra.
The prime minister said India is taking great strides forward in the defence sector. He spoke of various measures being taken for the welfare of ex-servicemen, including implementation of 'one rank, one pension' (OROP). Modi said that the Indian Armed Forces draw admiration and appreciation across the world, in UN peacekeeping operations. The prime minister offered sweets to the jawans. He also interacted with people from nearby areas who had gathered to greet him on Diwali.
Harshil is a cantonment area situated at a height of 7,860 feet close to the India-China border in Uttarkashi district. The prime minister is scheduled to go to Kedarnath later in the day to offer prayers and review the progress of reconstruction projects at Kedarpuri. Kedarpuri, the township situated close to the Himalayan shrine, had bore the brunt of the catastrophic floods of 2013 which killed thousands of people.
Responding to Diwali greeting from Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday night, Modi had said, "Every year, I visit our border areas and surprise our troops. This year too, will spend Diwali with our brave troops. Spending time with them is special.