History was created on Thursday when prime minister Narendra Modi came calling to Siachen glacier to personally wish `Happy Diwali' to the soldiers guarding the world's highest battlefield.
Prime minister, who was on the way to visit Srinagar to meet flood victims, made a surprise trip to Siachen glacier first to join the Indian army jawans in celebrating the festival of lights. It was Modi's first Diwali since taking over as prime minister which he decided to celebrate with the soldiers at the altitude of 12,000 feet.
Addressing officers and jawans at Siachen base camp, Modi said the jawans may be surprised, "But one does not need to announce arrival when coming to one's own (family)."
Praising the valour and courage of the armed forces, he said 125crore Indians could celebrate Diwali and go about their lives in comfort, because the jawans stood guard at the borders, ready to make every sacrifice for the nation.
"I have come to Siachen as a representative of the family members of the jawans who are busy serving Mother India on the borders. I am privileged that my first Diwali as prime minister will be spent partly with the jawans of Siachen, and partly with those affected by the floods in Srinagar," Modi said.
Situated at the north- eastern tip of Ladakh, Siachen literally means the Land of Wild Roses. Famed as the highest battle filed in the world, Indian Army is holding posts at unimaginable heights across the largest non polar glacier in the world.
The Siachen glacier is one of the contentious issues between India and Pakistan with both countries paying a heavy cost for maintaining and guarding the icy peaks in harsh conditions where temperatures plummet to minus 50 degrees.
Pakistani army suffered major defeat in 1987 when Indian army led by honorary captain Bana Singh captured their "Quaid" post located at 21153 feet which was later named "Bana" post.
Sharing the pain and anguish of those (families) who lose their loved ones (soldiers) in these difficult conditions (at the glacier), prime minister said sometimes a body is found years later, and many still wait. "One has to witness first-hand, the conditions at Siachen to appreciate the hardship that the jawans go through," Modi said.
Amid slogans of Bharat Mata Ki Jai, Prime minister assured the jawans that he would do his utmost to ensure a life of dignity for them. "Your dreams and responsibilities are the responsibility of us all. The entire nation stands shoulder to shoulder with you," he said
Prime minister said the promise of one rank, one pension had been fulfilled, and preparations were being made for a National War Memorial. Modi also wished the entire country "Happy Diwali" from the icy heights of Siachen.
"As countrymen light diyas today, they should recall that the warmth of the earthen lamps has been fuelled by the sweat and toil of the jawans of the Indian Armed Forces. Let those jawans inspire the rest of the country to work towards achieving the dreams and aspirations of the common man," he said.
Prime minister later handed over a cheque for Rsfive lakh for the welfare of the jawans, and personally offered sweets to the jawans.
Later he wrote in the visitors' book: "The soldiers in uniform who guarded the nation's frontiers in such difficult conditions were no less than rishis and sages."