Rajnath Singh’s office tweets video of meeting with soldiers in Galwan clash

These soldiers took part in the clash in Galwan Valley, which resulted in the death of at least 14 Indian soldiers

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday visited a sensitive forward post at a height of over 12,000 feet along the LoC in North Kashmir's volatile Keran. Photo: Screengrab

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s office on Sunday (July 19) put out a video on Twitter of the defence minister interacting with soldiers in Lukung base camp near Pangong Tso in Ladakh.

These soldiers took part in the clash in Galwan Valley, which resulted in the death of at least 14 Indian soldiers.

Singh is also seen shaking hands of the battalion officers and men while praising them for their bravery in the video.

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday (July 18) visited a sensitive forward post at a height of over 12,000 feet along the Line of Control (LoC) in North Kashmir’s volatile Keran sector that has been witnessing frequent incidents of unprovoked firing by Pakistan Army and cross-border infiltration bids by terrorists.

The defence minister’s visit to the area came a day after he directed the top military brass in Jammu and Kashmir to strongly retaliate to any Pakistani “misadventure” along the LoC and foil all attempts by the “adversary” to push terrorists into the Indian side.

Singh was accompanied to the high-altitude North Hill post by Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, Army Chief Gen MM Naravane, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen YK Joshi and Commander of Chinar Corps Lt Gen BS Raju among others. Before arriving at the post, Singh visited the holy cave of Amarnath and offered prayers.

The troops of North Hill battalion confront the constant threat of enemy action on a daily basis, said a senior official, adding the units have not only foiled repeated attempts by terrorists to sneak through but have also inflicted heavy losses onto Pakistani forces abetting such bids.

At the post, the local Army commander briefed Singh about the overall situation in the area and how Indian troops are relentlessly foiling Pakistan Armys attempts in the sector to push terrorists into the Kashmir Valley.

“The visit by the defence minister and the top Army brass to Keran sector is a clear message to Pakistan that India will appropriately respond to its attempts to create problem in Kashmir,” said the senior official.

Singh spent around an hour at the post during which he interacted with the soldiers and hailed them for guarding the LoC round-the-clock despite the harsh weather and other trying circumstances. “The whole country is proud of you all,” Singh told them during the impromptu interaction.

Notwithstanding the coronavirus pandemic in the region, Pakistan has been resorting to unprovoked ceasefire violations along the LoC and making concerted efforts to push militants into Kashmir. The Pakistani hostilities increased after India announced its decision to withdraw special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the state into two union territories in August last year.

The Keran sector has particularly been witnessing significant rise in number of ceasefire violations and cross border infiltration attempts. The area was the scene of a deadly operation in April in which five elite army commandos laid down their lives while eliminating a group of infiltrating terrorists.

The Pakistan Army resorts to border shelling as a cover to help Pakistan-based terrorists infiltrate into Kashmir.

“Visited a forward post near LoC in Kupwara District of Jammu-Kashmir today and interacted with the soldiers deployed there. We are extremely proud of these brave and courageous soldiers who are defending our country in every situation,” Singh tweeted.

“Smiling through the hardships of life fraught with danger on the Line of Control, the morale of troops reflects the unflinching resolve of the Indian Army to safeguard the nations borders at all costs,” said the official.

At a security review meeting with top Army officials in Srinagar on Friday, Singh asked them give a befitting reply to any “misadventure” by Pakistan.

Fourteen Indians were killed and 88 sustained injuries in more than 2,432 incidents of unprovoked ceasefire violations carried out by Pakistani forces till June this year, according to official data.

In 2019, Pakistani troops resorted to 3,200 ceasefire violations in Jammu and Kashmir which was highest in the last 16 years, according to the data. Of these, 1,565 ceasefire violations took place since between August and December after India reorganised Jammu and Kashmir.

In 2018, Jammu and Kashmir recorded 2,936 instances of violation of the 2003 ceasefire by Pakistan.

Singh arrived in Srinagar on Friday (July 17) afternoon on a two-day visit to Kashmir. Earlier on Friday, he had visited forward posts in Stakna and Lukung in eastern Ladakh amid the LAC standoff with China.

(With inputs from agencies)

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