New Delhi: Since 1984, India has lost about one soldier every month in Siachen Glacier due to avalanches or extreme climatic changes. The death of Lance Naik Hanumanthappa and his nine comrades is the latest one.
It started since first sending soldiers to Himalayan area to counter Pakistani army 32 years ago.
According to Lok Sabha’s data, total 869 Indian troops died at Siachen between 1984 and Dec 2015. 10 soldiers were buried under avalanche at an altitude of 20,500 feet on 3 Feb 2016 in Madras regiment and three others this year which increases the number to 883.
The troop includes 33 officers, 54 junior commissioned and 784 other rankers. All these are the result of extreme climatic conditions and not enemy fire, said Lok Sabha.
However, the death rate is declined from 24 in 2011 to 5 in 2015.
Siachen Glacier is considered as the world’s highest battlefield, but the battle is mostly with the weather. It is located in Himalayan region astride India-Pakistan border.
India has spent 6,556 crore between 2012-13 and 2014-15 for soldiers at Siachen, mostly on clothing and mountaineering equipment.
Many Pakistani soldiers also died due to Siachen’s extreme climatic conditions . An avalanche killed 140 people at a Pakistani camp , including 129 soldiers in 2012.
Siachen’s altitude reach 22,000 feet (The highest peak Mount Everest is at 29,000 feet), and temperature minimize upto-45 degress Celsius.
Soldiers faces many problems like lung damage, memory loss, serve depression and blurred speech. They also have to deal with long cracks and fractures in ice surface especially in summer.
Transporting is the most toughest task in these conditions, with some is possible only by helicopters and some needs pulleys to hoist the supplies up the mountainside.
Light Cheetah helicopter is the only mean of transportation during winter as the land route close.
3,000 to 4,000 Indian soldiers from three battalions serve every year, where each battalion spends three months on Glacier.
“The decision on Siachen is based on the security of the nation”, said Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar recently. “I am disturbed by the loss of life, but I think that due to this, some other solution (withdrawal) would not be the proper analysis.’’(IANS)(image:defenceforumindia.com)