The horror called Siachen Glacier

Siachen Glacier

Much is being said and reported about the incident due to which around 135 families are being traumatised. The Siachen Glacier by virtue of its difficult terrain and unpredictable weather poses a huge risk to our soldiers who operate in that terrain 365 days a year.

It is important that before commenting on why the rescue operation of this magnitude is not bearing fruits, we should know the demography and other important conditions, which are making this operation unsuccessful. The sheer magnificence and enormousness of the tremendous landscape put one in a state of trance as to what really would have been the reason

It is only the first time since 1984 that an incident of this magnitude has occurred. But, in reality every year we have fatal deaths, which are mostly weather related casualties occurring in this area and left un-reported. It was one such fatal early morning of December 2003 when I prepared my subordinates who were proceeding on leave after they have completed their tenure on the post. After prayers, the group left the post. It had only travelled for three hours, a huge avalanche engulfed the five-member team and within seconds they were nowhere to be seen. I was informed immediately about the incident.

On hearing the news, I hurriedly wore my equipment and slid down around 2,000ft wearing the parka in order to save my colleagues, as I had no idea what to do. As I put my ice axe in that avalanche, I realised I have lost them. Tears rolled down my eyes but I quickly had to control them in order to motivate my other team members who had joined me for the rescue. It was horrifying to see that the avalanche had actually become rock hard. From that day onwards, we carried the rescue operation for 17 days amidst the extreme temperature but to no avail.

Eventually, the operation was called off due to the rising temperature and lack of ration that was dumped on the post to be consumed for 14 people in five months. It was only after the temperature rose and water started flowing that we again started the rescue operation in August 2004 after eight months with 125 people digging almost 12 hours a day.

We devised a strategy to dig tunnels at five different places. It was a challenging operation as my men were getting tired and exhausted but we were unable to find a trace. I was scared that maybe water underneath has taken bodies away. But due to continuous prayers and hard work, we were finally able to locate a finger of our brave shaheed. We found a main source and in the next two days, we found all our five shuhada.

It is not an easy task to have operation in these areas. Only people who have operated in this area can understand the complexities of Siachen Glacier. We have no doubt that the rescuers are working hard but then it is the terrain, which is making their work even more complex. Lastly, the Siachen tragedy should be an eye-opener for the leaders of India and Pakistan and a reminder to the world community to see for itself the cost paid by the forces of two neighbours. The world must exert full pressure on India to vacate Siachen so that both India and Pakistan could divert the colossal amount spent on the maintenance of troops towards alleviation of poverty in the two countries. – Dailytimes

Siachen Glacier