President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday arrived at Leh in his first visit outside Delhi after assuming office on July 25. He presented the President’s Colours Award – the highest honour given to a unit for its service to the nation – to the Ladakh Scouts Regimental Centre and to all battalions of the regiment.

“Being the supreme commander of the armed forces, this visit is dedicated to the soldiers,” Kovind said. “Stationed in one of the most extreme climatic conditions, your bravery is bigger than your numbers.”

A ceremonial parade was held for the president. It was also attended by several military dignitaries, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehboob Mufti and Governor NN Vohra. Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat, Lieutenant General PS Pannu and the general officer commanding the 14 Corps regiment were also present at the event.

Kovind’s visit comes days after it was reported that Chinese and Indian troops got into a scuffle near Ladakh’s Pangong Lake on August 15. The altercation came at a time when New Delhi and Beijing are in a diplomatic standoff over the Doklam area of the Sikkim sector.

Meanwhile, Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh said he was confident that China will take a “positive step” and find a solution to the Sikkim standoff soon. “Peace will prevail soon,” Singh said, while speaking to the Indo-Tibetan Border Police in New Delhi.

The Sikkim standoff

India and China have maintained that troops from the other country had transgressed into their territory in the Sikkim sector’s Doklam area. Bilateral ties have been strained since the Indian Army stopped China from constructing a road in the region. New Delhi has made it clear that it will not allow China to construct a motorable road up to the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction through the Doklam plateau.