The Government of India on Monday opened the Siachen glacier, which is often called the world's highest battlefield, for tourists, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in Ladakh on Monday.
The Defence Minister was in Ladakh, along with Army chief Gen. Bipin Rawat, to inaugurate a strategically located bridge across the Shyok River which will provide easy connectivity with the Daulat Beg Oldi sector along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.
"Ladakh has tremendous potential in tourism. Better connectivity in Ladakh would certainly bring tourists in large numbers. The Siachen area is now open for tourists and tourism. From Siachen Base Camp to Kumar Post, the entire area has been opened for tourism purposes," Rajnath Singh said in a tweet.
Defence Min Rajnath Singh: Siachen area is now open for tourists & Tourism. From Siachen Base Camp to Kumar Post, entire area has been opened for Tourism purposes. https://t.co/6s7z4fpFbR— ANI (@ANI) October 21, 2019
Mountaineering expeditions used to be allowed to Siachen till 1984 before the ice-clad high altitude region was militarized following machinations by Pakistan.
The Siachen Glacier, which once used to be a demilitarized zone, came under the strategic control of India in 1984 following 'Operation Meghdoot'.
The operation had been launched by the Indian armed forces, under the leadership of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, after Pakistan allowed a Japanese team to undertake an expedition to a strategic peak in the glacier.
The peak directly overlooked the Aksai Chin, an area that is under dispute between India and China.
Since the boundaries between India and Pakistan in the Siachen region were not properly defined in the Karachi Agreement of 1949, Pakistan used to send tourist expeditions to the glacier in the 70s and the 80s. The Indian Army had also been allowing expeditions to Siachen in the late-70s.
In June this year, Rajnath Singh, accompanied by Gen. Rawat, had visited Siachen and praised the "tenacious resolve and unstinting commitment" of the soldiers deployed in the region. He had undertaken an aerial reconnaissance of the Siachen Glacier and interacted with troops at one of the forward posts.