Siachen Glacier
Indian Army helicopter in SiachenReuters

Weeks after the Centre revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian Army is planning to give access to civilians to the high altitude military locations along the Pakistan border. The plan to throw open the high peaks was discussed during a seminar that was also attended by many high ranked officers, reported news agency ANI.

One of the Army sources said: "During the conference, the Army chief stated that there is increased curiosity about the Indian Army and its operational challenges." The source further added: "The chief further said that this would be good for national integration. As the force has been allowing citizens to visit training centres and institutions, we now plan to open some forward posts like Siachen Glacier as well." However, the Army is yet to come with the concrete plans and procedures to allow the tourists.

Notably, the Siachen glacier come under Ladakh, which was recently converted into a Union Territory by the Narendra Modi government, after it abrogated Article 370 of the constitution that provided special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Interestingly, Siachen Glacier is the world's highest battlefield where Indian troops have been securing its orders.

Zojila pass
Indian army soldiers travel in a vehicle on a mountainous road covered by snowReuters

In 1984, through operation Meghdoot, India took control of a number of strategic locations including the main passes and heights of the Saltoro Ridge immediately west of the glacier, including Sia La, Bilafond La and Gyong La. India and Pakistan announced a ceasefire in the region in 2003 but many soldiers lose their lives due to extreme cold conditions and the treacherous glacial terrain.

In the past, the Indian Army had received requests from tourists visiting Ladakh and nearby places seeking access to famous Kargil war positions as well as the Tiger Hill where the Indian Army fought against the odds to recapture the positions held by Pakistani regular army and mujahideen in the summer of 1999. Civilians have been allowed to trek from Siachen Base Camp to higher altitudes since 2007.