Amritsar/Ferozepur : For the second successive year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesda celebrated Diwali with troops, visiting military installations associated with the 1965 Indo-Pak war where he praised their “valour and character” and promised “fool proof” implementation of One Rank, One Pension for war veterans.
Against the backdrop of the continuing protests by several ex-servicemen over OROP, Modi said it was for the first time that the government, while notifying its decision to implement the scheme, had also set up a commission to ensure there are no shortcomings in the process. “It is a fool proof arrangement,” he said.
The Prime Minister also pitched for a fresh thrust to domestic manufacturing in the defence sector. Modi paid surprise visits to three military installations close to the Indo-Pak border — the Dograi War Memorial in Khasa, Asal Uttar Memorial near Valtoha and Barki War Memorial in Ferozepur district, and interacted with the troops. At the Dograi War Memorial in Khasa in Amritsar, he placed wreath at the venue of one of the toughest battles fought and won by Indian forces on September 22, 1965.
He also laid a wreath at the Asal Uttar Memorial near Valtoha on the Amritsar-Khem Karan road in Punjab and at the tomb of Company Quartermaster Havildar Abdul Hamid, a Param Vir Chakra recipient. Modi noted that during the Asal Uttar battle in 1965, Hamid single handedly destroyed three enemy tanks and helped stop their offensive, in spite of being mortally wounded. “Paying homage to CQMH Abdul Hamid. He was awarded Param Vir Chakra posthumously for his gallantry,” Modi tweeted.
Asal Uttar Memorial marks the Battle of Asal Uttar, which was one of the largest tank battles fought within Indian territory in 1965. Modi also met soldiers at the Barki War Memorial, about 98 kms from Khasa, which was constructed in 1969 to perpetuate the memory of soldiers of the 7 Infantry Division who made the supreme sacrifice on the battle field in 1965 war. In his address to the troops at Ferozepur, Modi said “recently, in defence sector, the country has made many important decisions. It is India’s endeavour that defence manufacturing takes place here.”
Addressing the troops in Khasa, he said, “I have come to celebrate Diwali with you. I am happy to get this opportunity…”
Hailing the soldiers, the Prime Minister said, “It is because of your valour, dedication and dreams that the whole world looks at India with respect. It is not only because of the uniform but character of the armed forces.” He said India holds its head high in the comity of nations because the generations of leaders in the armed forces nurtured the forces. “I congratulate those who have provided leadership over several years to the armed forces,” Modi said. His tributes to the “character” of armed forces come against the backdrop of protests by a section of ex-servicemen over the “dilution” of OROP. Several war veterans have returned their medals as part of their protest.
Later, he tweeted, “I spent time with our soldiers and we had a wonderful conversation.” This is the second successive Diwali that Modi spent with troops after becoming the Prime Minister. Last Diwali, he had paid a surprise visit to Siachen, the highest battleground in the world, to spend time with the troops.