Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday ruled out any troop withdrawal from the Siachen glacier after the last week’s > avalanche claimed the lives of 10 soldiers.
“The decision on Siachen is based on the security of the nation. I am disturbed by the loss of life but I think that due to this, some other solution [withdrawal] would not be the proper analysis,” Mr. Parrikar said on the sidelines of the International Fleet Review in response to questions if Siachen would be converted into a peace park.
Last Wednesday, a major avalanche hit a post on the northern glacier at a height of 19,600 feet being manned by soldiers of the Madras Regiment. One Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) and nine soldiers were killed in the tragedy and efforts are still on to locate and retrieve their bodies.
Noting that chances of finding any survivor was “very less or almost nil” as the area was under tonnes of ice, Mr. Parrikar said search was still on. He noted that casualties had come down in recent times and despite the best of efforts, nature cannot be predicted.
“From the information I have, there are no loose ends. It was an avalanche and even people who calculate everything before climbing the Everest lose their lives in an avalanche. These are unpredictable shows of strength by nature,” he said.
India and Pakistan have lost over 2,000 soldiers in the last three decades, most of them to extreme and unpredictable weather events. Time and again proposals have been put forward to demilitarise the glacier but India has refused any such move without proper delineation and acceptance of the current positions.