Textile Minister Smriti Irani will go to Siachen base camp to celebrate Raksha Bandhan with soldiers. Besides Irani, seven more women ministers in the Narendra Modi government will be visiting soldiers elsewhere that day. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti, Women and Child Welfare Minister Maneka Gandhi will visit borders areas and interact with the soldiers. MoS for Commerce Nirmala Sitharaman, MoS in the Ministry of Food Processing Industries Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, and MoS in the Health Ministry Anupriya Patel will be also meeting soldiers.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar said Irani will visit the Siachen Base Camp on August 18. The army will be asked to make arrangements for her visit on Raksha Bandhan, the festival that sees men vowing to protect their sisters. Soldiers at Siachen have seen visits by Prime Minister and defence ministers on special occasions but perhaps this will be the first time when a woman minister will visit Siachen. In 2014, PM Modi visited Siachen on Diwali and interacted with the soldiers. The visit comes amid a fresh debate over the army’s presence in Kashmir valley and escalated tension with Pakistan.