Operation Meghdoot – 1984 (Siachen Conflict)


Indian and Pakistan forces race to take control of the Siachen Glacier.

The battle is significant for being the highest altitude battle on record. The Siachen Glacier is 21,000 feet up (6,400m).

Following on from the Karachi Agreement of July 1949, control of the Siachen Glacier was not explicitly detailed. The line of control ended at Point NJ9842.

Pakistan stated that the agreement inferred that control continued up along to the Karakorum pass, however, India said that it extended up to the Saltoro Ridge.

In 1984, both sides contested ownership of the glacier which offered access to the strategic Karakorum range and pass.

In 1984, Pakistan gave permission for a team of Japanese mountaineers to climb Rimo I which in the Indian Government interpreted as intent by Pakistan to reinforce their claim to the area.

In preparation for the assault, the Indian Army sent their troops off to Antarctica in 1982 to prepare for operations in extreme cold. In preparation, they also approached a London based firm of outfitters for the supply of mountaineering gear.

When the Pakistan Government heard that India had sent troops to Antarctica, they started to prepare their own operation, however, the approached the same London outfitters firm for their high-altitude clothing and the firm informed India that they had done so.

As such, the Indian army accelerated their program. They airlifted their units near to the range but walked the rest of the distance so as not to alert the Pakistanis.

As such, the Indians were able to secure all the major passes, including Sia La, Biladond La and Gyong La. By the time the Pakistanis arrived, they were able only to take some strategic terrain in the Saltoro Range.

Casualties were reported on both sides, although it is not clear how much was from conflict and how much was due to the cold.

The battle was controversial because it was not thought that the land was of any strategic relevance.

Both sides have since established permanent military bases across the Saltoro Ridge and the Siachen Glacier.



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