Terming the death of 10 soldiers in an avalanche on the Siachen glacier as “painful”, defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday said the decision to deploy troops in the world’s highest battlefield was based on security needs, despite the hostile conditions and terrain.
Ten army personnel, including an officer, were buried on Wednesday after they were hit by an avalanche at a high-altitude post on the glacier in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Decision about (deployment of troops in) Siachen is based on the security of the nation. If somebody wants to go there and they have to understand its importance, why we are maintaining it (security presence) in spite of hostile conditions...I think you will understand if you go to that place,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an international maritime conference.
“I am disturbed with any loss, particularly of soldiers, who do it for the nation. Now this particular incident (death of 10 soldiers) is absolutely painful to me personally,” he said.
“You can yourself understand that the terrain is such that we lost thousands of soldiers to retain control over it,” he added, while adding that the loss of human lives on Siachen had decreased in recent years due to improved facilities, equipment and training.
Patrolling the world’s highest battlefield is no small feat; boasting temperatures ranging from a minimum of minus 42 degrees Celsius in the night to maximum of minus 25 degrees C during the day, as well as harsh, mountainous terrain, the Siachen glacier has seen its fair share of peacetime casualties.