Bengaluru, Feb 11: The country has lost a braveheart soldier Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad on Thursday, Feb 11, in a battle against death, at Delhi's Research and Referral army hospital, after he miraculously survived a treacherous avalanche in Siachen on Feb 3.
His death, figuratively speaking, added to an 'unending' death toll due to inclement weather condition at Siachen glacier. The country has lost over 1,000 soldiers without any war, but battle against nature-- 'A fight to survive.'
"Nature is the prime enemy in Siachen glacier controlled by India," opines Air Marshal (retired) B K Pandey. India is left with no option but to guard the glacier as withdrawing troops would provide Pakistan and China to easily interfere in Ladakh. The tactical advantage to the country from the area beyond NJ9842 is, it blocks access for Pakistan and China to Ladakh.
The fresh sacrifice at the glacier is no new phenomenon. Many have died since 1984 after India claimed its foot on Sia La and Bilfond La. However, Gyong La is still controlled by the Pakistan army.
Pandey, who served at military airfield in Thoise, a small village in Shyok valley near Nubra river, scathingly observes that sacrifices at Siachen will continue and long standing dispute between Pakistan and India over territory will only remain 'a long standing issue'.
For a question on will both parties (India and Pakistan) would one day mutually agree to withdraw troops, Pandey quipped "the only route to resolve dispute is by uniting India and Pakistan as one nation."
He recalled a paper he presented for his M.Phil in 1996. Pandey jogging the memory said, "I argued in the paper for 'India and Pakistan' reuniting again to which army raised an objection." Pandey stressed Indo-Pak relationship will never consolidate and reuniting would pave the way for resolving the unresolved .
Even though the Indian government emerges with the opinion of drawing troops, the Army disputes the idea. Army does not support the idea of withdrawing the troops back from the glacier. The key reason is, once the troops are pulled out, going back to the area is extremely hard. Then, Pakistan and China will seize this opportunity to launch the offensive.
In view of this, Army will not back such move, even if the government works on that front. On the other hand, Pandey opened another window of argument saying, military dominance over Pakistan might also render solution for the problem. But Pandey was quick to observe India lacks military capabilities to overpower Pakistan, including political capabilities.
The glacier is treacherous, even as temperature hovers around -50 degree celsius. The loosing of lives will continue to take place in the conflict-ridden zone. "The nature is the prime enemy for soldiers and they have to battle it hard to survive in the high altitudes of the Siachen," Pandey added.
When asked about glacier melting and will India regret over it, if it retreats completely and finally whole glacier is perished, he contended that "this would not occur in the near future, the country has to focus on today."