New Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to visit Siachen, Srinagar today

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh

In his first trip as Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh on Monday will visit the Siachen Glacier - the world's most dangerous battlefield -- to meet the soldiers guarding the border beyond the heights of 12,000 feet.

Singh, to be accompanied by Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat, will also visit the headquarters of the Army's 14 Corps in Leh and 15 Corps in Srinagar, official sources said.

Top commanders of the Army will brief the defence minister about overall security situation along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan and apprise him about the anti-terror operations in Kashmir, they said.

Singh will first arrive at the high altitude Thoise airfield in Ladakh from where he will travel to an operational base and then go to the Siachen Glacier where he will interact with Army's field commanders and soldiers.

The Siachen Glacier in the Karakorum range is known as the highest militarised zone in the world where the soldiers have to battle frostbite and high winds.

Avalanches and landslides are common at the glacier during the winters and temperatures can drop to as low as minus 60 degrees Celsius.

According to official figure, the Army lost 163 personnel at the world's highest battlefield during the last 10 years. India and Pakistan started deploying troops at the strategically key glacier in 1984.

Sources said the defence minister will be given detailed and specific presentations at 14 Corps and 15 corps relating to India's preparedness to deal with any possible eventualities and misadventure by Pakistan.

The Army's 14 Corps guards the Line of Actual Control with China as well as the Line of Control with Pakistan. The Srinagar-based 15 Corp is mainly tasked with carrying out anti-terror operations in the Kashmir valley.

The defence minister is scheduled to return to New Delhi on Monday evening.

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