Maintaining his tradition of celebrating Diwali with the armed forces, Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Rajasthan's Jaisalmer on Saturday. The PM has been visiting the forward areas on the festival since 2014 when he elected to head the country for the first that. That year he went to Siachen, the world’s highest battleground. This year too he has kept up with the practice despite the coronavirus pandemic.
According to sources, a total of 600 men in uniform are part of PM's Diwali celebration, which includes Army, IAF and BSF officials. Modi arrived in Jaisalmer's Longewala post around 9:30am. He is accompanied by Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat and Army chief MM Narvane. BSF director general Rakesh Asthana is also expected to participate in the celebrations.
Modi greeted people on Diwali on Saturday. "Best wishes to all countrymen on Diwali. Wishing everyone a Happy Diwali! May this festival further brightness and happiness. May everyone be prosperous and healthy," he tweeted.
On the eve of the festival, the PM appealed to the people to light a 'diya' as a "salute to soldiers", saying words cannot do justice to the sense of gratitude for their exemplary courage.
"This Diwali, let us also light a Diya as a #Salute2Soldiers who fearlessly protect our nation. Words can't do justice to the sense of gratitude we have for our soldiers for their exemplary courage. We are also grateful to the families of those on the borders," he tweeted.
The prime minister also posted an audio clip of his recent 'Mann Ki Baat' broadcast in which he had first given a call to citizens to light a 'diya' for soldiers in Diwali. He had urged people to light a 'diya' (lamp) while they celebrate the festival to honour security forces guarding the country's borders.
After Modi's appeal, the BJP urged people to post a photo with 'diyas' for soldiers on social media. "This Diwali, PM Narendra Modi has launched this special campaign to let us express our gratitude for our bravest of the brave soldiers. Request you to post a photo with diyas for our soldiers using #Salute2Soldiers on social media," the party said.
Since assuming office in 2014, the prime minister has been celebrating Diwali by spending time with soldiers in forward areas in states like Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.