Siachen Day is celebrated on 13 April
Siachen sits astride two disputed boundaries with Pakistan & China. It lies in the Karakoram Range in the North West India. Siachen Glacier is 76.4 kilometers long and covers about 10,000 square kms of uninhabited terrain. In 1974, Pakistan started permitting mountaineering expeditions into Siachen Glacier. By the spring of 1983, it was clear that India needed to maintain a close watch on Siachen. On 13 Apr 1984, a Platoon of 4 KUMAON led by then Capt Sanjay Kulkarni (Now Lt Gen (Retd)) planted the first Indian Flag on Siachen Glacier at Bilafond La which began Operation MEGHDOOT. For the past 33 years, Indian troops have been deployed on the world’s highest and coldest battlefield in extreme cold temperatures of minus 40 to 50 degrees Celsius.
The human body has to make great adjustments in its functioning, to live and work at these extreme altitudes. The Siachen Glacier presents a unique set of environmental challenges for human body and is one of the toughest call of duty for Indian soldiers. Low oxygen, increase in blood pressure due to reduced barometric pressure at high altitude, extreme cold, high levels of ultraviolet radiation and low humidity are some of the adversities that human body has to endeavor in Siachen.
After getting deployed on posts which often require climbing vertical snow walls and great mountaineering skills, a soldier is isolated from civilization for about 03 to 04 months at a stretch. To stay and survive at such very high altitudes (upto 21000 feet) in isolated posts, requires a great amount of physical courage, mental stamina and nerves of steel. However, it is the faith reposed by every soldier in his countrymen and vice versa, which keeps the soldiers going in such adversities.
During long and fluctuating Himalayan winters, ambient surface temperature drops below minus 40 degrees Celsius. High altitude combined with low temperature and Glaciation, frequently results in blizzards with wind speeds in excess of 100 knots. It is very difficult to move and operate in blizzards as visibility drops to zero in addition to high velocity and chilly winds. The unpredictable and frequent avalanches are among the greatest threats which the soldiers face in the region.
In early summers, the crevasses start opening. The crevasses are so deep and wide that they could swallow an entire helicopter. Crevasses are both vertical & horizontal. Ladders have to be placed on crevasses to cross them. New crevasses open up every year requiring great bridging effort to bridge them.
After 33 years of Operation MEGHDOOT; the Indian Army’s longest deployment on strategically located Siachen Glacier continues. This is a saga of unmatched bravery, heroism, courage and sacrifice on the world’s highest and coldest battle field. The dauntless courage and willpower of Indian Army has ensured that the Tricolour keeps flying at the Northernmost part of the Nation with pride and élan.