Army chief to visit Siachen on January 9

Army chief to visit Siachen on January 9

Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane is expected to visit the Siachen glacier on January 9, a senior officer said on Monday.

This will be Naravane’s first outstation trip after taking over the top job.

Siachen is strategically important as it acts like a wedge between the Shaksgam valley under Chinese control and Baltistan, which is occupied by Pakistan.

As long as the region is in India’s control, the Pakistani army cannot link up with the Chinese to pose a threat to Ladakh.

Over a 1,000 soldiers have died guarding Siachen since the Indian Army took control of the inhospitable glacier in April 1984, almost twice the number of lives lost in the Kargil war.

While around 220 men have been killed in firing from the Pakistani side, the other casualties were caused by extreme weather and terrain.

A ceasefire between India and Pakistan was announced in November 2003.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh announced last October that the Siachen was now open to tourists as part of the government’s efforts to boost tourism in Ladakh and give people a first hand experience of the tough conditions in which army personnel operate.

Naravane took over as the Army chief on December 31. In his 39-year military career, Naravane has commanded a Rashtriya Rifles battalion, raised an infantry brigade, led a strike corps and headed the Army Training Command.

He was also part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka and served as India’s defence attache to Myanmar.

By: HT

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