Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday became the first defence minister of the country to visit the Balbir forward post in Jammu and Kashmir. The Defence Minister was accompanied by the Army chief General Bipin Rawat.

She was received at the post by Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh, Northern Army Commander, and Lieutenant General AK Bhatt who is the Chinar Corps Commander.

Balbir post is located in the Kupwara district. Sitharaman interacted with troops deployed along the border.

A Defence Ministry statement said that Sitharaman was “briefed by the commanders on ground as regards the operational preparedness and counter-infiltration grid.”

Sitharaman lauded the round-the-clock sharp vigil of the soldiers along the Line of Control (LoC), their high morale and professionalism.

“She also exhorted them to remain alert for any eventuality to defeat nefarious designs of hostile forces,” the statement said.

After taking stock of the preparedness at the post, Sitharaman and General Rawat called on newly-appointed Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik at Raj Bhavan in Srinagar to discuss the overall prevailing security situation in the Valley.

The Governor and Defence Minister discussed several important inter-related issues concerning effective management of internal and external security, particularly in the context of increasing attempts at infiltration and the ongoing anti-terrorist operations.

They also had detailed discussions on the Urban Local Bodies and Panchayat elections which will be conducted in October-December this year.

The crucial need for strengthening and the maintenance of vital road networks and strategic connectivities in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly in the Ladakh region was also discussed, the statement said.

The Governor lauded the Northern Army’s working in total coordination with the administration, police and Central armed forces for ensuring safety and security of the people.

(With inputs from agencies.)