“Even if we hit the eggs with a hammer, they won’t break,” an exasperated solider who is posted in Siachen said in a video that has been shared on Twitter.
Since the death of Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad and his nine comrades in February 2016, the dire living conditions of Siachen aren’t unknown to people. This video gives us a glimpse into our soldiers’ tribulations, living in the harsh conditions of the Siachen Glacier.
‘Eggs Are Like Rocks, They Just Won’t Break’
The video shows a soldier tearing open a tetra pack of fruit juice and revealing it to have solidified. The soldiers can consume the fruit juice only after boiling it in a vessel first.
They show other vegetables like potatoes, tomatoes, onions and ginger that have become extremely hard due to low temperatures. A soldier demonstrates through multiple attempts at cutting the vegetables, with a huge knife and even a hammer, that they are not viable food options.
"“This is a potato. We cannot eat it like this, it cannot be cut even with this hammer. Same with this ginger or onion. The eggs are like rocks, they will just not break. This is a ginger, it has become as hard as ice, we cannot eat this.” " - Soldiers posted in Siachen‘It Is Not Easy to Live in Such Conditions’
The soliders’ frustration can be seen at the end of the video, when they demonstrate again, how even a big hammer is not enough to break a tomato or a potato. The video concludes with one of them saying,
"“This is why it isn’t easy to live over here, temperatures drop to -70 degree Celsius and life here becomes extremely difficult.”"
This video comes shortly after the new Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh, visited a forward post at Siachen base camp on 3 June.
Army Has Lost 163 Personnel in the Last 10 Years
Last year, former Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that the Indian Army has lost almost 163 personnel during the last 10 years.
In July 2018, data presented at the Lok Sabha showed that a total of 869 Indian soldiers have died in Siachen since 1984 due to climatic conditions and other environmental factors.
An IndiaSpend report in 2016 had documented that almost two soldiers die every month in avalanches or due to extreme climatic conditions.
The living conditions of Siachen are extremely hard to survive in. Oxygen levels are low and soldiers are prone to suffering from memory loss, slurred speech, frostbite, lung infections and severe depression. They also deal with the dangers posed by crevasses (deep cracks or fractures in glaciers), especially during the summer months.
Transporting the most basic supplies in these conditions is a big task, with some posts accessible only by helicopters. A few posts use pulleys to hoist supplies up the mountainside.
During the winter, when land routes close, ageing, light Cheetah helicopters are the only means of supplying food and ammunition and conducting emergency evacuations.
Brave Experiences Recounted
A retired colonel shared his experience of being at the Siachen glacier with The Quint in 2016, where he reiterated how, for soldiers guarding Indian posts at Siachen, survival is an everyday battle.
Lt General (Retd) Ata Hasnain recounts his experiences from his stint as a Commanding Officer at the foreboding heights of Siachen to The Quint.
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