She conveyed to them that the government was committed to support them in all circumstances while she reviewed the situation along the L:ine of Actual Control (LAC) with China in Eastern Ladakh accompanied by top Army commanders.
During her maiden visit to this area after assuming the charge, Sitharaman reviewed the security situation in Ladakh which shares a long un-demarcated boundary with China. She inauguratged a bridge linking Leh and Karakoram providing much needed connectivity to the strategically important Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie axis for military transport.
“The Defence Minister, who had reviewed security situation in hinterland of Kashmir and Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan and also visited some forward posts, interacted with the soldiers in the remote areas of Siachen Glacier and conveyed her best wishes on the auspicious occasion of Dussehra,” sources said.
She returned to Union capital this evening after completing her first two-day visit to the State, which was confined to Kashmir and Ladakh regions. Sources said she would visit border areas of Jammu, which have been rocked by intense Pakistan shelling and firing, at a later date.
Complementing the Army jawans, she said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Government fully support the soldiers who are protecting the nation in all circumstances.
“I assure you that the Government is with you all the time under all circumstances. We are not only sensitive to your needs and demands but also to those of your families,” the Minister said addressing the troops.
Recalling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Siachen Glacier, where he spent time with soldiers on Diwali in 2014, she said the Government wanted to understand the conditions in which the jawans live.
“Jawans from different States, which have varied weather conditions, come and serve the nation in such high-altitudes and it is laudable,” she said.
“We are committed to spending time with the jawans and do whatever is possible for them,” said Sitharaman, the first full-time woman Defence Minister of the country.
She was accompanied by Chief of the Army Staff General Bipin Rawat, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Devraj Anbu and GOC Leh-based 14 Corps Lt Gen S K Upadhyaya.
After inaugurating the bridge built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), she said it is nothing short of a miracle to construct roads and bridges in such a rough terrain and in such trying circumstances where even breathing is difficult.
While lauding the BRO and its men for working in difficult terrains and hostile conditions, Sitharaman said that BRO not only connects people of small hamlets in those areas where the civilian administration cannot reach, but also provides connectivity for the Army and strategic locations of the nation.
She said that constructing roads and bridges in difficult terrains will help in development and progress of the nation and its people.
The state-of-the-art bridge is a major development on the Shyok Gong River which will enhance travel of locals as well as the Army in this strategic region. It will increase travel and communication for strategic transport, the Defence Minister said.