For the third year in a row, Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrated Diwali with those guarding the country’s borders. Keeping with his practice, PM Modi met jawans of the ITBP, Indian Army and Dogra Scouts in Sumdo of Kinnaur district in Himachal Pradesh. He also made an unscheduled stop at Chango village to wish people on Diwali. He also dedicated this Diwali to the Indian soldiers.
The first installment of nearly Rs 5,500 crore has been paid for implementing the OROP scheme, PM Modi said while asserting that he has “fulfilled the promise” he made to ex-servicemen on the issue that has been hanging fire for the last 40 years. “Spent time with our courageous @ITBP_official & Army Jawans at Sumdo, Kinnaur district, Himachal Pradesh. Jai Jawan! Jai Hind!,” he tweeted.
“The OROP was not about just Rs 200 or Rs 500 crore, but Rs 10,000 crore… After I became the PM, and decided that I had to do (implement) it, the entire government lost sleep over it… It was not possible for the government to pay in one go, so I requested the ex-servicemen to accept it in four instalments. “The money will reach them in four installments. Nearly, Rs 5,500 crore has been paid as the first installment,” Modi said.
He said the issue had been pending for “40 years” as certain people in the previous governments “did not know” about OROP (scheme), and therefore “only Rs 500 crore was allocated” for the purpose. Modi also said that many people thought that if the scheme was not implemented, a section of “ex-servicemen would turn against the government”.
Modi also met personnel of the General Reserve Engineering Force (GREF), a branch of Border Roads Organisation (BRO), entrusted with construction and maintenance of border roads and also executing the Rohtang Tunnel project, the official said.
The Prime Minister had celebrated his first Diwali in 2014 with army in Siachen and second one last year on the Punjab border with Pakistan. PM Modi is also expected to visit Badrinath, one of the holiest temples of Hindus, which is located nearby.
In run up to Diwali, the Prime Minister had urged people to send their good wishes to security forces personnel on Diwali, saying such messages will boost their morale. A campaign in social media with the tagline – #Sandesh2Soldiers – through which people can send their Diwali greetings and messages to soldiers guarding the nation’s frontiers is already underway. The initiative comes against the backdrop of surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army on terror launch pads in the PoK on September 29 and the heightened tension along the Indo-Pak border.