Leh, “We have pledged to protect the sovereignty of our nation in all situations,” President Ram Nath Kovind said on Monday as he presented the President’s Colours to Ladakh Scouts on his first visit outside Delhi after taking charge.
Speaking here at the event, also attended by Army chief General Bipin Rawat, the President said his visit to Jammu and Kashmir was dedicated to the armed forces.
“This is my first trip outside Delhi after taking charge as the President. I chose this beautiful Leh in Jammu and Kashmir for my first visit and I am very happy to be amid our soldiers. Being the Supreme Commander of the armed forces, this visit is dedicated to the soldiers,” Kovind told the Scouts in Hindi.
Lauding the soldiers, the President recalled their bravery in the Kashmir conflict in 1947-48, the war with China in 1962, the Pakistan war in 1971 and the Kargil war in 1999.
“Stationed in one of the most extreme climatic conditions, your bravery is bigger than your numbers,” he said.
“We have pledged to protect the sovereignty of our nation in all situations. I am sure we will fulfil this pledge and uphold the pride and honour of the country,” he said.
President’s Colours is one of the greatest honours bestowed on a unit in recognition of exceptional service rendered to the nation, both during war and in peace.
A spectrum of civil and military dignitaries, including the Governor and Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, as well as a large number of serving and retired personnel, witnessed the grand ceremony.
Raised as Nubra Guards in 1948, the soldiers were amalgamated into the Indian Army as regular troops in 1963 and restructured as an Infantry Regiment in 2000.
The President praised the soldiers’ “exceptional gallantry and indomitable courage” which has earned them 605 gallantry and distinguished service awards besides many other honours, making them one of the most decorated regiments of the Indian Army.
The visit to Leh comes days after a scuffle between the Chinese and Indian Armies when some Chinese soldiers tried to cross the Line of Actual Control (LAC) near Pangong Lake in Ladakh.
The President said it had been 54 years since the Ladakh Scouts became a part of the Indian Army. “This period has been replete with tales of heroism, honour and glory. 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,” he said.
Complimenting the Ladakh Scouts for 605 awards and honours for gallantry and distinguished services, the President said, “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”.
He also congratulated all veterans and serving soldiers of the regiment for their adherence to duty and professional conduct.
The President also released a documentary film on Colonel Sonam Wangchuk, MVC, produced by Somesh Saha, and interacted with veterans and ‘Veer Naris’, besides gallantry awardees.
Later, he laid the foundation stone for the Buddha Park for World Peace at Leh’s Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre, the statement said.