Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that attempts were made to disturb peace in the country but the Indian Army gave a “befitting reply” each time, reported ANI.

Modi was in Nowshera sector in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district where he met the soldiers on the occasion of Diwali. Since he became the prime minister in 2014, Modi meets the troops in a border region on Diwali every year.

“I want to spend Diwali with family members so I join you on [this] festival,” Modi said during his address on Thursday. “Your capability, strength ensure peace and security for country.”

The prime minister also praised the Army personnel for the surgical strikes carried out five years ago.

On September 29, 2016, the Indian Army claimed to have carried out “surgical strikes on terror launchpads” across the Line of Control to neutralise alleged infiltrators the previous night. The strikes followed an attack on an Army base in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri, in which 17 Indian soldiers were killed.

“In the surgical strike, your role fills everyone with pride,” Modi said at Nowshera. “I will remember that day forever as it was decided that all soldiers should return before sunset. And I was looking at my phone continuously to see if all the jawans have returned or not.”

He called the Army soldiers the “protection shield” of the country. “It is because of you all that people of our country can sleep peacefully and there is happiness during festivals,” Modi said.

The prime minister noted that women officers were getting permanent commission in the Army and said that their role in the security of the country was “touching new heights”.