Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Siachen glacier in the third week of August — the first such visit since 2005.
While the visit is likely to be slated for August 21, the Army is getting ready with a special Siachen suit to equip the prime minister for the sub-zero temperatures during his maiden visit to the highest battlefield in the world. The special suit will also have a name plate with ‘Narendra Modi’ written on it, sources said.
Army chief General Dalbir Singh, who was slated visit the northern frontiers shortly, is likely to postpone his visit and accompany the Prime Minister during his visit.
While the final programme is still being worked out, the sources said Modi will interact with the troops posted on the glacier. The last visit to Siachen by a prime minister was by Manmohan Singh in 2005.
“The PM will be first visiting the Army’s Leh-based 14 Corps from where he would be flown to Siachen. While it is likely to be a day-long visit, tea or meal followed by interaction with the troops is enough to boost the morale of the men,” an Army official said.
Modi’s visit may be viewed as a strong message to Pakistan, given that the neighbouring country has always pressed for de- militarisation of the glacier. The most recent demand from Pakistan to de-militarise Siachen came after 2012 when 130 Pakistani soldiers died in an avalanche on their side of the slopes along the glacier. India on the other side has opposed the demand given that its Army, which occupied the 71-km glacier in 1984, dominates the heights along the snow-capped terrain and given the strategic importance of the glacier with Pakistan Occupied Kashmir on one side and China-occupied Aksai Chin on the other side.
Ladakh visit likely on August 12
In an apparently clear message of increased focus on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Ladakh on August 12, second time since he assumed office.
Modi is expected to address public rallies at both Leh and Kargil, besides inaugurating a power transmission plant, sources said, adding that his second visit as PM within a span of little over two months indicates New Delhi’s increased focus towards J&K. Moreover, this is coming not only at the time when Assembly elections in the state are round the corner, but also when Lashkar-e-Toiba founder and the alleged mastermind of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack Hafeez Saeed has been holding anti-India rallies in Pakistan’s territory bordering the state.
Confident after wining three of the six Lok Sabha seats in J&K during the general elections, the BJP has now set a target of winning over 44 seats of the total 87 in the Assembly polls. For this, the party has gone into election mode by forming committees headed by senior leaders to woo voters in the three regions of the state. According to local BJP leaders, nearly three dozen ministers, from both the Centre and BJP-ruled states, are also expected to visit Assembly constituencies from this month.
Inspector General of Police, Sunil Sharma said that in view of the PM’s visit, the police have stepped up security measures. The police, instead of a knee jerk reaction, follow this drill round the year in view of the visits of one or the other VIP during the period, he said.
In this context, Sharma referred to terrorists attack near Chadwal on the Jammu-Pathankote national highway two days after Modi’s Lalkar rally at Hiranagar last year. As terrorists may strike a few days before or after an event mentioned in the inputs, there is always a lurking danger of terror strike, he said.