Nearly three months after India repealed the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, the government has started the process of completing Kashmir’s integration through tourism.
The Government of India is trying to populate the Ladakh region, including the world’s highest battlefield where troops from India and Pakistan guard their borders. The country has allowed tourists to visit the world’s highest battlefield - Siachen Glacier.
The move came days after the idea found traction following a speech by Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat last month.
Inaugurating the Shylok road bridge-just 45 kilometres away from the Line of Actual Control, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday, said Ladakh has tremendous potential for growth through tourism, as the country opened the strategically located region to tourism.
“Better connectivity in Ladakh would certainly bring tourists in large numbers. The Siachen area is now open for tourists and tourism,” the minister said. “From Siachen Base Camp to Kumar Post, the entire area has been opened for tourism.”
The steps were taken with the consonance with the Indian Army which has the opinion that people have developed a keen interest in army life and its ways, especially, noting mounting interest by Indians wanting to visit Ladakh and nearby areas.
Currently, hundreds of civilians seek permission to visit the famous Kargil war positions where the two nuclear-armed nations fought a bitter battle in 1999 in which over 500 Indian soldiers died.
In 2007, India opened a base camp on the strategic glacier to tourists. At 5,000 to 7,000 metres above sea-level, the Siachen glacier is the world’s highest battlefield, contested by India and Pakistan since 1984 when the Indian Army occupied it.
The Siachen Glacier is part of the Ladakh region which India announced as a separate administrative state on 5 August. China has been objecting to what they term the “unacceptable” decision and has asked India to revoke it.
Pakistan, which considers the glacier its territory, has made repeated attempts to wrest it from Indian control but has been resisted each time.