Information about Siachen Glacier -
About 50 million years ago a big island in Tethys ocean called Indian subcontinent, started drifting northwards and collided with Asian subcontinent. The collision resulted in creation of four ranges – lowermost Himalaya Range was made up sea level earth/ soil and is vulnerable to land slides, Zanskar range north of Himalaya range was made up of ocean floor of Tethys ocean, Ladakh Range north of Zanskar of granite – which was result of high temperature and pressure churning during the drift and collision and the north most is the Karakoram range. Siachen lies in Karakoram Range.
Siachen is the 2nd largest glacier in the world after artic glaciers and the altitude lies from 11000 feet to 23000 feet. Temperatures experienced are from – 5 deg to -40 deg. Winds upto 80 kmph bring in the chill factor. It is around 75 km long and around 70 km in breadth. Nowhere in the world this combination of low temperatures and high altitude exists. Karakoram range is the source of Indus river which flows from Ladakh - Kargil – POK.
Siachen is claimed on the basis of Oct 1947 accession of J & K to India and Karachi Agreement in 1949 and it says line going north of NJ 9842 (actually square NJ 39 98 000 13 42 000), from the Saltaro ridge and beyond. Pakistanis claim is north of line emerging from NJ 9842 and going north east towards Karakoram pass. They claim all north of it is their territory.
Occupation of Siachen by Indian troops code named as Operation Meghadoot was launched on 13 Apr 1984.
With the following aim –
- To secure Saltaro ridge to secure glacier in the East.
- To dominate Pak positions west of Saltaro.
- To block infiltration
- To curtail Pak adventurism in Turtuk and South of it.
- To secure Indira col which overlooks Shagskam valley and denies Pak access to Karakoram pass.
The LAC is line of actual control facing China.
The LC is Line of control facing Pakistan.
The AGPL is actual ground control position line in the Siachen Glacier.
The run up for Operation Meghdoot started in 1975 when col Narender Kumar (a post in Siachen is named after him) who was on deputation to National Sking School Srinagar, Sheikh Abdulla then chief minister told Mr Kumar to help German Sking and rafting tourists. They went upto Sasoma which is last road head. At that time Col Kumar noticed the maps which Germans brought had markings on it which aligned the line beyond NJ 9842 in the north east direction instead of north. The information was given to AHQ and there was a meeting between Gen Chibber (Dir Gen Mil Op), Gen Hoon (GOC North Cpmmand) and RAW’s Vikram Sood. It was decided that patrols would be sent at regular intervals to the region and therefore Polar Bear I, II, III patrols were sent from 1978 till 1983. Pak protested and started readying to occupy the glacier. Force Cdr North Area (FCNA) of Pak planned for occupation sometime between Jan 84 - Sep 84. At that time, President was Zia Ul Haq. The plan was to hold Gyong Pass in the south, Siala and Bila Fondla passes. It was called as Op Ababeel.
Op Meghdoot was launched ahead of Op Ababeel and Indians surprised Pakistanis. This Op Meghdoot resulted getting control of Siala and Bilafondla passes over Saltaro thereby having control over the Siachen Glacier. 1999 Kargil war – one of the objectives of Pak was to recapture parts of Siachen.