Families of about 8,000 soldiers posted on the Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest battlefield, will soon get a pleasant surprise — a personalized letter from defence minister Rajnath Singh, an official who did not want to be named said.
On average, depending on the height of the post, the tenure of soldiers and officers on the glacier is between three months and a year.
With posts at heights of 18000-20,000 ft and temperatures dipping below -50 °Celsius, the glacier is one of the most inhospitable regions in the world.
Rajnath flew to Siachen on June 3 on his maiden visit to meet the soldiers.
“The minister wanted to connect with the soldiers at a personal level and send a message that they are valued and cared for,” the official cited above said. This is, perhaps, the first time that a defence minister will be writing directly to families of soldiers posted on the glacier.
After his maiden visit, Rajnath tweeted, “Visited a forward post and Siachen base camp today and interacted with the Army personnel serving in this region which is also known as the ‘the highest battlefield in the world’.” He also mentioned the 1,100 soldiers who died defending the glacier.
The glacier is of immense strategic importance. Indian boots on the glacier prevent a link-up between the Pakistani army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army which would threaten Ladakh. The glacier is a wedge between the Shaksgam Valley, controlled by the Chinese, and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). India had prevented Pakistan from taking control of the glacier in 1984.
In the past, too, defence ministers have made it a point to pay special attention to troops positioned on the glacier. George Fernandes, defence minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, once sent two senior bureaucrats to the glacier when he came to know that they had held back a file on purchase of snow bikes for soldiers deployed there.
Credit – Hindustan Times