NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears to have made it a tradition to celebrate Diwali with the country's troops in a border area and this year he's spending the day with the 15 Corps in north Kashmir along the Line of Control (LoC).
The PM flew to Srinagar en route to the Gurez Sector in Kashmir's Bandipora district on Thursday morning to meet with Corps soldiers and officers. He was received at Srinagar airport by Army chief Bipin Rawat.
The Army chief, Northern Command chief Lt General Devraj Anbu and Chinar Corps Commander Lt Gen J S Sandhu accompanied the Prime Minister to Gurez, an Army official told PTI.
This is Modi's second Diwali in Kashmir+ . He spent his first Diwali as Prime Minister also in Kashmir, in Siachen, in the aftermath of devastating floods in the Valley.
Last Diwali, the PM visited a remote and strategic area in Himachal Pradesh+ , adjoining the Chinese border, and celebrated with troops. And in 2015, the PM celebrated the occasion with troops in the border area near Amritsar.
This year, PM Modi's visit to the border areas in Kashmir comes even as ceasefire violations by Pakistan have dramatically increased along the LoC in Bandipora and neighbouring areas.
Pakistan has violated the ceasefire more than 600 times so far this year, the highest in a decade, reported PTI. In all of 2016, there were 450 ceasefire violations. Eight civilians and 16 security personnel have been killed this year in such violations, a home ministry official said.
A day before Diwali, eight civilians, including a two- year-old girl, were injured when Pakistani troops shelled civilian hamlets and forward posts along the LoC in the Poonch and Rajouri districts of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.
Meanwhile, early on Thursday, Indian and Pakistani troops exchanged sweets at the Attari-Wagah border.