Delhi: Ten Army personnel were buried under a mass of snow after their post was hit by an avalanche on Wednesday at the altitude of 19,000 feet close to the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir. They were presumed dead on Thursday after Army and IAF tried hard to rescue the soldiers - a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) and nine other ranks of Madras Regiment - and failed.
Following are some facts about Siachen, world's highest battle field and the difficult conditions that our soldiers work in.
- The Siachen glacier is the highest battleground on the earth and the minimum temperature in the region can dip to -50 Degree Celsius or -140 Degree Fahrenheit in winters.
- It is located in the eastern Karakoram range in the Himalaya Mountains where the Line of Control between India and Pakistan ends. It is said to be the longest glacier in the Karakoram and second-longest in the world's non-polar areas.
- Deployment of a soldier in Siachen is permitted by the Indian Army for a maximum period of three months and in the high-risk areas of the glacier such as Bana Post, the limit is said to be of 30 days.
- The Army unit which is deployed in this difficult terrain is rotated after every six months.
- Bone-chilling winds is said to whip the landscape and sun can burn the skin. It is also said that combined with thin air and sub-zero temperatures, it can induce acute depression.
- In 1984, India launched Operation Meghdoot, a military operation that gave India control over all of the Siachen Glacier, including its tributaries.
- Between 1984 and 1999, frequent skirmishes took place between India and Pakistan.
- In December 2015, Indian Union Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh had said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha that a total of 869 Army personnel have lost their lives on the Siachen glacier due to climatic conditions and environmental and other factors till date since the Army launched Operation Meghdoot in 1984.
- He had also said then that the government had spent over Rs 7,500 crore for procurement of clothing and mountaineering equipment for soldiers posted in high-altitude areas.
- Aside from the Indian and Pakistani military presence, the glacier region is unpopulated. The nearest civilian settlement is the village of Warshi, 10 miles downstream from the Indian base camp.
- The region is also extremely remote, with limited road connectivity. On the Indian side, roads go only as far as the military base camp at Dzingrulma. The Indian Army has developed various means to reach the Siachen region, including the Manali-Leh-Khardung La-Siachen route.
- India has categorically stated that India will not pull its army from Siachen until the 110-km long AGPL is first authenticated, delineated and then demarcated.
- Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh became the first Indian PM to visit the area, during which he called for a peaceful resolution of the problem. The then President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari also visited the area during 2012 with Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
- Civilians are usually not allowed to go beyond Panamik, a small village in the Nubra Valley.