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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi visits Siachen and meets our SOLDIERS

It’s name literally translates into - the place of roses – it is  72 km, in the East Karakoram and  is one of the longest glaciers in the Himalaya and Karakoram. It has number of peaks, side valleys and at its head lies the Indira Col, the divide between South and Central Asia. The Nubra river drains the glacier and ultimately joins the Shyok river near Khalsar.  A few years back, when I happened to travel with a soldier in Tamil Nadu Express – he was returning home after serving a stint over there – a few words made sure that in life others should never complain – he said, that many end up killed either by snow or driven mad by the loneliness – with nearest soldier miles away, food coming once a while – it is harrowing beyond imagination. 

The Great Indian Army fights adversities on borders as well as with natural calamities. The major feature of this army is that it combats in hot, chilly, temperate, forestry, terrain. One best example is the Siachen glacier where the Indian soldiers guard the border at -80 degree Celsius and braving the hot climate conditions in the Thar desert, at plus 50 degrees.  "But cold kills more troops than bullets. Soldiers brought down to base camp often suffer hearing, eyesight and memory loss because of prolonged use of oxygen masks. Many lose eyes, hands or feet to frostbite. " Cheetah helicopters fly in to retrieve wounded or sick soldiers and drop supplies to their comrades, who remain behind on the lonely promontories. The enemy is hard to see in the crags and craters in the vast whiteness -- and harder to hit. Rifles must be thawed repeatedly over kerosene stoves, and machine guns need to be primed with boiling water. At altitudes of 18,000 feet, mortar shells fly unpredictable and extraordinary distances, swerving erratically when met by sledgehammer gusts. While some troops fall to hostile fire, far more perish from avalanches and missteps into crevasses that nature has camouflaged with snow. This is especially so now in springtime, as the sun licks away several feet of ice and opens new underground cracks and seams.

"After 50 strides, even a well-conditioned man is gasping for breath with his muscles in a tremble. Seventeen years of refrigerated combat have brought only 17 years of hardened stalemate. The Pakistanis cannot get up to the glacier; the Indians cannot come down."  The Siachen Glacier has claimed the lives of over 8,000 Indian and Pakistani soldiers between April 1984 and April 2012.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday paid a surprise visit to Siachen to celebrate Diwali with soldiers posted at the world’s highest battlefield and hailed the role of the armed forces in securing the country. Before reaching Srinagar, he went to Siachen early in the morning and spent more than an hour with the soldiers at a base camp situated at a height of over 12,000 feet.

He praised their valour and courage, saying that 125 crore Indians could celebrate Diwali, and go about their lives in comfort, because the jawans stood guard at the borders, prepared to make every sacrifice for the nation. From the icy heights, he also extended Diwali greetings to President Pranab Mukherjee. Mr. Modi told the jawans that he had come unannounced, and they may be surprised, but one does not need to announce arrival when coming to one’s own family.

Jai Jawan ~ hail the act of our Prime Minister

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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