For the second successive year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrated Diwali with troops today, saying the world looks at India with respect because of their valour and “character”, in comments that come against the backdrop of protests by several veterans over OROP.

He visited the Dograi War Memorial at Khasa in Amritsar and placed wreath at the venue of one of the toughest battles fought and won by Indian forces on September 22, 1965.

He also laid a wreath at the Asal Uttar Memorial near Valtoha on the Amritsar-Khem Karan road in Punjab and at the tomb of Company Quartermaster Havildar Abdul Hamid, A Param Vir Chakra recipient.

Modi noted that during the Asal Uttar battle in 1965, Hamid single handedly destroyed 3 enemy tanks and helped stop their offensive, in spite of being mortally wounded.

“Paying homage to CQMH Abdul Hamid. He was awarded the Param Vir Chakra posthumously for his gallantry,” Modi later tweeted.

Asal Uttar Memorial marks the Battle of Asal Uttar, which was one of the largest tank battles fought within Indian territory in 1965.

“Our forces captured/destroyed over 90 enemy tanks by the end of the Battle of Asal Uttar...During this battle CQMH Abdul Hamid single handedly destroyed three enemy tanks & helped stop their offensive, inspite of being mortally wounded,” Modi said in his tweets.

Addressing the troops in Khasa, he said, “I have come to celebrate Diwali with you. I am happy to get this opportunity.”

Hailing the soldiers, the Prime Minister said, “It is because of your valour, dedication and dreams that the whole world looks at India with respect. It is not only because of the uniform but character of the armed forces.”

He said India holds its head high in the comity of nations because the generations of leaders in the armed forces nurtured the forces.

“I congratulate those who have provided leadership over several years to the armed forces,” Modi said.

His tributes to the “character” of armed forces come against the backdrop of protests by a section of ex-servicemen over the “dilution” of ‘One Rank, One Pension’ Several war veterans have returned their medals as part of their protest.

Later, he tweeted, “I spent time with our soldiers and we had a wonderful conversation.”

This is the second successive Diwali that Modi spent with troops since becoming the Prime Minister. Last year on Diwali, he had paid a surprise visit to Siachen, the highest battleground in the world, to spend time with the troops.

Earlier in the day, he tweeted, “Today on the auspicious occasion of Diwali, I am visiting the border areas to spend time with our Jawans.”