Prez visits Siachen base camp; expresses gratitude to soldiers

Prez visits Siachen base camp; expresses gratitude to soldiers

President Ram Nath Kovind with the soldiers at Siachen Base Camp on Thursday. PTI

President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday visited the Army base camp in Siachen, the world’s highest battlefield, and expressed gratitude to the soldiers posted there.

The bravery and valour of soldiers deployed in Siachen over the past 34 years, the President said, had given every Indian the confidence that the borders were safe and secure.

Kovind said he had come to Siachen to iterate to the troops posted here that all the citizens and government of India were always with them and supportive of their families.

Addressing the soldiers, he said, as the supreme commander of the armed forces and as the President of India, he had come to them carrying the gratitude of the entire country.

The President said Siachen was the world’s highest battlefield and it was difficult to live even a normal life in the extreme climate.

"In such a situation, it is extraordinary for soldiers to stay in a state of constant mobilisation and combat readiness. Their determination and dedication is worthy of the highest praise - and their allegiance to the defence of India is an ideal for all our fellow citizens," Kovind said.

The President also visited the Kumar Post.

Kovind is the second President to visit Siachen. The previous visit was undertaken by former President A P J Abdul Kalam in April 2004.

This makes Kovind the first President to travel to Siachen in 14 years.

He also asked soldiers posted at Siachen to visit the Rashtrapati Bhavan when they get time to visit Delhi.

Srinagar-based defence spokesman said the President was accompanied by Chief of the Army Staff General Bipin Rawat and Lt Gen D Anbu, General Officer in Commanding of the Northern Command. 

After arriving at Thoise airfield, the President flew to Siachen and undertook an aerial survey of the glacier, the spokesman said. 

The President also paid his respects at the Siachen war memorial, a symbol of the sacrifice of 11,000 soldiers and officers who had been killed since the Indian Army began Operation Meghdoot on the Siachen glacier on April 13, 1984.

Some of the posts on Siachen are located at an altitude of more than 20,000 feet where the temperature drops up to minus 52 degrees Celsius, making it the toughest war field for the soldiers guarding it.