On 13 April 1984, Indian troops snatched control of the Siachen Glacier which was the world’s highest & coldest war in northern Kashmir, narrowly beating Pakistan. Thirty four years till now also, that incidence is still being remembered by everyone.
“Quartered in snow, silent to remain, when the bugle calls, they shall rise and march again.” These are the words that are etched on a stone memorial at the Indian Army base camp.”
The sun doesn’t sustain life here, kerosene does, the bullet doesn’t kill here, the cold does, but our brave hearts take all of this face front and never back down” said by a member of the Indian Army . Temperature went to -50°C &the Siachen glacier was being steadily melting and was down to half its size.India estimated to be spending $1 million (Rs 6.8 crore) a day to keep Siachen supplied, which comes to Rs 18,000/sec. This amount would have built 4,000 senior secondary schools in a year or 1,72,000 schools in 30 years. A roti that costs Rs 2 to make reportedly costs India Rs 200 to transport to Siachen. A study showed that it wasn’t possible for anyone to survive in such a threatening condition but our Armed forces were bold & dedicated towards the mission.
Here are 10 things about the Indian army soldiers in Siachen that will make you thank them for the life you are living.
- Sometimes Indian soldiers, as many as 6 at a time, had to live in igloos made of fiberglass panels not bigger than the size of a king-size bed. The only way to keep themselves warm is through small kerosene stoves. Hot water bottles didn’t stay hot for long, sleeping didn’t happen at night.
- Since temperatures usually flowed below -50 °C, touching anything made of metal with bare hands caused severe frost bites within seconds. Guns and other weapons were only operated while wearing anti-frostbite gloves. Even the sweat in the gloves froze to become ice, sometimes leading to finger amputations. Soldiers brought down to base camp often suffer problems of hearing, eyesight and memory loss because of prolonged use of oxygen masks.
- Despite such difficulties, the Indian Army holds two-thirds of the glacier and controls two of the three most important passes including the highest motorable pass in the world called Khardungla Pass.
- Fresh food was not even imagined at Siachen. Fruits froze to become as hard as cricket balls which was not even broken by a hammer. Getting the food at an altitude of 21,000 feet was a task in itself. Indianmade Cheetah helicopters which often passed boundaries to drop food and if the weather found bad, a lot of food is swallowed by the snow.
- The soldiers used to take bath only once in a month, that too in specially designed commodes by DRDO. Drinking water was obtained from melting ice on stoves.
- Rifles were thawed repeatedly over kerosene stoves and machine guns were dipped in boiling water to keep them from jamming.
- The snow storms can last well up to more than half a month and that place had about 10 percent of the oxygen that plains have. While even professional climbers dread climbing in bad weather, our soldiers were on their feet.
Despite these extreme situations, the Indian Army never experienced a shortage of volunteers to serve in Siachen. Each person was ready to serve his contribution to the war so that chances of winning can be increased. A heartfelt salute to these brave hearts. They always give lesson to all of us.