India plans civilian trek to Siachen

India plans civilian trek to Siachen

India plans civilian trek to Siachen

"The Siachen trekking expedition this year is in its planning stage and is likely to take place some time in October-November," an Army officer involved in the planning of the trek said here.

The expedition, which has now become an annual affair, is meant to showcase to the global community that Indian troops hold the Siachen glacial heights and Pakistan is nowhere near the Glacier, regarded as the world's highest battlefield.

Guns had boomed in the 78-km-long Glacier at an altitude of 18,875 feet till November 25, 2004, when a formal ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan came into effect along the 740-km Line of Control (LOC) and 110-km Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL).

During this year's expedition, the Army plans to take along 35 civilians including women, journalists, scientists from the DRDO and other glacial studies institutes, and mountaineers from among civilian enthusiasts as well as military training establishments.

The participants would be trained in mountaineering, skating and other such skills required to go through the arduous month-long trek to the Glacier, the officer said.

They would also be visiting some of the Indian Army positions on their way up the glacier and back.

The civilian Siachen expedition had run into a controversy when it began in 2007 after Pakistan lodged a strong protest, calling it "incongruous" to ongoing peace efforts between the two countries.

Though the Army halted the trip immediately after the protest that year, it went ahead with the trekking expedition after a go-ahead was given by the UPA government later.
Every year since then, India continued with its Siachen expedition of civilians and mountaineering enthusiasts, even as Pakistan had voiced its concern.

Despite protests from Pakistan, India maintains it does not need Islamabad's approval to send trekkers to Siachen, which is essentially in Indian territory.