Modi has been visiting forward posts every Diwali since his government came to power in 2014. He was in Rajouri last year in Uttarakhand in 2018, and in Gurez in 2017. Continuing this tradition, he celebrated this year’s Diwali with soldiers at Longewala Post.

Talking to the media, Modi said his Diwali is complete only after he comes among the soldiers, adding he cannot stay away from his own at this festival. He said the more time he spends with the soldiers, the stronger his resolve to serve and protect the country gets.

Extending greetings to Jawans, Modi said, “I extend my Diwali greetings to you. I have brought the greetings of every Indian to you today. You may be on snow-capped mountains or in deserts, but my Diwali is complete only when I celebrate with you. My happiness doubles when I look at the joy on your faces.”

“Every year, I cherish spending Diwali with our security forces. It is a way of reaffirming our solidarity with them, as they bravely protect the nation and ensure our country can scale new heights of progress,” Modi tweeted later.

While addressing the soldiers at the forward post on Saturday, the prime minister gave India’s enemies an unambiguous message and asserted that India would provide a “Prachand Jawab” (fierce reply) if provoked. Longewala Post has become a part of military legend after troops here successfully thwarted numerically higher Pakistani forces in the 1971 war.

Recalling the glorious battle of Longewala, Modi said it will always be remembered in the annals of strategic planning and military valour. He said this was when Pakistan’s ugly face was exposed as its army was terrorizing innocent citizens of Bangladesh and committing atrocities against women.

“Pakistan opened the front on the western border to divert the global attention, but our forces gave them a befitting reply,” he said.

On occasion, he recalled the fierce fight the post had witnessed in the 1971 war against Pakistan and paid tributes to Brigadier Kuldeep Singh Chandpuri, a hero of the battle who was then a Major he became “Rashtra Deep” with his feat of bravery. He said the war was also an example of exemplary coordination among Army, Navy, and Air Force.

India had defeated Pakistan in the war, leading to the independence of Bangladesh. Modi noted that the battle will mark 50 years in 2021.

He posted several pictures of his visit to Longewala on his Twitter account, including one he could be seen riding a tank. He also laid a wreath at the war memorial at Longewala.

Modi also interacted with air warriors, soldiers, and security personnel at Jaisalmer.

“The coming generations must know about the bravery with which our soldiers and security forces ensured that India is safe from the evil designs of those who eyed our territory,” Modi tweeted along with pictures of him looking at war memorabilia.

Without naming it, Modi took a swipe at China and said that the world is troubled by “expansionist forces,” and expansionism shows a “distorted mindset” that belongs to the 18th century.

India has become a forceful voice against expansionism forces, Modi said and aimed Pakistan, adding that Indian soldiers have hit “sponsors of terrorism” in their home, a reference to air and surgical strikes against terror camps in the neighbouring country.

“No force in the world can prevent our brave soldiers from defending our borders. The world today knows that we will not compromise with our interests even one bit at any cost,” he said amid a standoff with China in eastern Ladakh.

He said India today believes in understanding others and making them know, but it will give a fierce reply if it is tested.

The country has the capability and political will to give a befitting response to those who challenge it, Modi added.

He also underlined the importance of having a vital capability, saying despite advanced international cooperation and equations, vigilance is the path to security, alertness leads to happiness, and peace is the prize of having strength.

“History of the world tells us that only those nations have remained safe and advanced who could take on invaders,” he said, adding that 130 crore Indians stand with the country’s soldiers and bow to their bravery. “They are proud of your valour,” he told the soldiers, saying their bravery has got the better of all adversities, be it in deserts, forests or deep oceans.

While the Indian forces can make the enemies tremble, they are also at the forefront to help people in times of disasters, he said.

Modi lauded the role played by Air Force and Navy in rescuing people who were stranded in other countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Indian Armed Forces worked on a war footing during the pandemic and contributed at every level, ensuring the availability of masks, sanitizers, PPE kits, medical equipment, and hospitals in the country, he said.

“Our Air Force was at the forefront in rescuing people from Wuhan (China). Some countries left their people stranded in Wuhan, but we not only rescued our people, but air force personnel also helped citizens of other countries,” he said.

The most significant impediment in the modernisation of the army and in achieving self-sufficiency in military equipment have been age-old processes, Modi said, adding that continuous work is being done to simplify these processes and recently, some major improvements have been made.

“Your sacrifices teach the country discipline and sense of service,” the Prime Minister told soldiers, referring to his government’s efforts to combat the coronavirus and also to restart the economic activity fully.

Modi urged soldiers to make innovation and yoga a part of their daily lives. He also asked them to learn one language other than Hindi, English, and their mother tongue, saying it will enrich their lives.

The Prime Minister referred to his government’s stress on self-reliance and “vocal for local” campaign, and complimented the armed forces for the decision to bar imports of over 100 weapons and defence equipment.