Leh: Under the pretext of a routine visit, President Ram Nath Kovind visited Ladakh, the region facing China, a country that is threatening India with its military manoeuvres in Doklam in the India-Bhutan-China border area since June this year.
At a ceremony held here, the president presented Colours to all the 5 Ladakh Scouts Battalions and the Ladakh Scouts Regimental Centre that guard the region.
Speaking on the occasion, the president said that the visit to Leh, in Jammu & Kashmir, was his first outside Delhi since he assumed office. In his capacity as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, he suggestively dedicated the visit to the armed forces of the country.
The president said it has been 54 years since the Ladakh Scouts became part of the Indian Army. This period has been replete with tales of heroism, honour and glory, he said. The genesis of the Regiment was in the invasion by Pakistani raiders in 1947-48 and the resolve with which Ladakhis defended their motherland. This continues to remain a matter of pride for the entire country, the president averred.
A story popular in India about Aksai Chin is that Pakistan had infiltrated into the area and then gifted it to China. Records, however, suggest that India lays claim to the territory of Aksai Chin, which lies to the north of the venue of the president’s visit, because of its being part of the Ladakh region historically and based on the Johnson Line. China infiltrated into the area by building a road connecting its Xinjiang province to western Tibet; 179 km of that road lies to the south of the Johnson Line. India learnt of the Chinese act of infiltration not before 1958. Ever since, Chinese troops infiltrate further into Ladakh, albeit by a few miles, at sporadic intervals.
The president said that in a little over half a century, the regiment he felicitated had earned 605 honours and awards for conspicuous gallantry and distinguished service. This speaks for the exceptional valour and spirit of the regiment personnel and is a model for all soldiers and officers of our armed forces. They have earned distinction in various wars and operations and excelled in sports, adventure pursuits and professional challenges, the president recalled in his speech.
The president said he would like to pay homage to the martyrs of the Ladakh Scouts Regiment. Their blood and sacrifice has secured our sovereignty, brought glory to our nation and protected our people from harm. He also congratulated all veterans and serving soldiers of the regiment for their adherence to duty and professional conduct. The itinerary of the president had clear indications that the exercise was meant to boost the morale of the forces in an environment of hostility.
Among the dignitaries present on the occasion were the Governor of Jammu & Kashmir NN Vohra, Chief Minister of the State Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed, Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Kumar Singh, other Ministers of the State government and Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat.
Later the president laid the foundation stone of the Buddha Park for World Peace at Leh’s Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre. Thereafter he flew back to Delhi.