There was a word going on around on the eve of Diwali that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting and celebrating the festival with soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir , but a last minute change saw Prime Minister land in Himachal Pradesh instead. He celebrated Diwali with soldiers in Lepcha along the Indo-China border in Himachal Pradesh .
Had there been no last minute change in the schedule, it would have been Modi’s sixth visit to the Northern Command formations which are spread across Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh . That he has visited the troops deployed and in operational readiness operating under the Northern Command has a story of its own - PM has been making big statements about the importance that he accords to the troops deployed in the Himalayan Territories in Ladakh and J&K , before and after these became the union territories in October 2019, as a sequel to the abrogation of Article 370 and reorganization of the state of Jammu and Kashmir Ever since he became Prime Minister in 2014, Modi has visited Northern Command troops of the Indian army five times - 2014 at Siachen, 2017 in Gurez along the LoC in northwest Kashmir,, and in 2019 he turned up at Rajouri , in 2021 in Nowshera sector , and in 2022 he was in Kargil , the land of trans-Himalayas where a mini-war was fought in the summer of 1999.
Much has changed in Jammu and Kashmir and the role of the Indian army since Modi took over as Prime Minister in 2014, and his first visit for Diwali celebrations was in Jammu and Kashmir. Her had visited Siachen glacier, reckoned as highest battleground of the world , that had come as a surprise because the preparations were made in Srinagar for his meeting with the flood victims . Kashmir was hit by devastating floods in September 2014 , and the unprecedented floods had evoked international attention . That had also become a test for the BJP government to prove that how much it cared for Kashmir, though Prime Minister had visited Srinagar on the day- September 7, 2014, itself to show his solidarity with the people of Kashmir and promised to open treasury for any help that J&K may require to overcome the impact of the devastating floods. Kashmir was looking not only financial help from the Central Government, but much more, as the local government had become dysfunctional under the impact of the gushing waters all over. Kashmir had become a big lake . The Indian army had played a crucial role in rescuing the marooned population .
The change in the army’s role in J&K and Ladakh , under the Northern Command , has to be looked beyond what is obvious . The army has been integral to the national security in Jammu and Kashmir since 1947 when its troops landed to push back Pakistani invaders . The instrument of accession signed by Maharaja Hari Singh was a legal document to define the relationship between J&K and India , but it was the army that translated the legal document into reality by chasing Pakistani invaders from most of the places in the state . That legacy is continuing .
In the past 10 years , the army has faced multiple challenges on the borders as also in the hinterland – challenging and curbing the infiltration from across the Line of Control that divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan , and tackling various forms of terrorism that threatened the nation’s security and integrity . It has been dealing with the inimical elements , and at the same time providing an overall sense of security to the population While its role in checking infiltration has been in vogue since 1990s , but much of the scenario changed with Kargil war in 1999 when the infiltration assumed dangerous dimension – Pakistan army regulars took upon themselves the role of doing what they had been making the militant groups to do. That led to the creation of another Corps- 14 Corps for Ladakh region , which is now known as Fire and Fury Corps . At the time of its creation, in the aftermath of Kargil war of 1999, there was a backdrop of Pakistan’s misadventures in the trans-Himalayas , but now this Corps is facing greatest challenge along the Line of Actual Control with China . Chinese troops have inflicted a military standoff for the past three and a half years and it is still continuing .
The Indian and Chinese military Commanders have held 19 rounds of talks , but the progress in terms of de-escalation and disengagement has been excruciatingly very slow . Not only that , the trust deficit between the two sides has deepened since April-May 20orthern Command Has handled all the unpredictability in the situation well. It is a byword for stability and security in the Indian national security system.