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Siachen glacier UPSC NOTE

 

  • The Siachen Glacier is located in the Eastern Karakoram range in the Himalayas, just northeast of Point NJ9842 where the LOC between India and Pakistan ends.

  • The entire Siachen Glacier, with all major passes, has been under the administration of India since 1984 (Operation Meghdoot).

  • The Siachen Glacier lies immediately south of the great drainage divide that separates the Eurasian Plate from the Indian subcontinent in the extensively glaciated portion of the Karakoram sometimes called the "Third Pole".

  • Nubra river originates from Siachen Glacier

  • The Siachen Glacier is the world's highest battlefield

  • Siachen is a legacy of the Partition between India and Pakistan. 

  • While the Line of Control (LoC) was delineated and accepted by both sides upto NJ-9842 as part of the 1972 Simla agreement, the glacier itself was left unmarked. 

  • India claims the area based on the Jammu and Kashmir Accession Agreement of 1947 and the Karachi Agreement of 1949, which define the ceasefire line beyond NJ-9842 as running “Northwards to the glaciers”. 

  • On the other hand, Pakistan interprets it as ‘North-Eastwards’ to claim the area beyond the Saltoro Ridge and beyond Siachen as its own

  • The Saltoro Mountains form a subrange within the Karakoram Range and are situated in the southeastern part of the Karakoram. 

  • They lie on the southwest side of the Siachen Glacier

  • This would give Pakistan direct connectivity to China as well as strategic oversight over the Ladakh region and the crucial Leh-Srinagar highway, posing a serious threat to India.

Operation Meghdoot

  • In the 1970s and 1980s, Pakistan began allowing foreign mountaineering expeditions, resorting to cartographic aggression, to add credence to its claims. 

  • Following intelligence inputs of imminent military action by Pakistan in early 1984, India moved to pre-empt it

  • Operation Meghdoot was initiated on April 13, 1984, by the Indian Army and Indian Air Force (IAF) to secure the Siachen glacier

Operation Meghdoot

  • This was accomplished after a platoon of 4 Kumaon led by then Captain Sanjay Kulkarni (retired as Lt Gen) planted the Indian flag at Bilafond La at an altitude of 18,000 feet. 

  • Personnel from the Ladakh Scouts were also deployed via Cheetah helicopters by the Indian Air Force (IAF).

  • Although the operation began in 1984, IAF helicopters were already operating in the Siachen Glacier since 1978, flying the Chetak helicopters which was the first IAF helicopter to land in the Glacier in  October 1978.

Nubra Valley

  • Nubra, also called Dumra, is a historical region of Ladakh, India that is currently administered as a subdivision and a tehsil in the Leh district. 

  • Its inhabited areas form a tri-armed valley cut by the Nubra and Shyok rivers. 

  • Its Tibetan name Dumra means "valley of flowers"

  • The Shyok River meets the Nubra River (or Siachan River) to form a large valley that separates the Ladakh and Karakoram Ranges. 

    • The Shyok river is a tributary of the Indus river. 

Nubra Valley

  • The average altitude of the valley is more than 10,000 feet (3,000 m) above the sea level. 

  • The most common way to access this valley is to travel over the Khardung La pass from Leh.

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