India will not vacate the Siachen glacier, where 10 Indian soldiers were buried alive in an avalanche earlier this year, as Pakistan may take control of the position and have the strategic advantage, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar reportedly said Friday.
India has positioned its troops at the Saltoro Ridge, located at 23,000 feet, in Siachen glacier, Press Trust of India reports. A major avalanche Feb. 3 led to the death of 10 Indian soldiers, of whom one died during treatment at a hospital.
"If we vacate the position, the enemy can occupy the position and they would have the strategic advantage. Then we would have to lose many more lives. We know the experience of 1984 (Siachen conflict)," Parrikar said during the Question Hour in the Lok Sabha.
"I know we have to pay the price and I salute our armed forces personnel, but we have to maintain this position. We have to man the strategic position. The position is very important from a strategic viewpoint. I don't think anyone in this House can take Pakistan's words for granted," he added.
The Indian government is providing six times more than the normal medical support to soldiers positioned there, Parrikar said. They have been provided with snow scooters and at least 19 categories of clothing to survive the extremely cold temperatures, he added.
"There is no supply shortage, (but) we can't totally conquer nature," he said.
The number of deaths has come down to 10 each year from 28 every year earlier, the defence minister said. At least 915 people have been killed in Siachen in the last 32 years.