Siachen tragedy: Mortal remains of four army men reach home today

Siachen, known as the world's highest battlefield, is at an altitude of around 20,000 ft above sea level. (File photo)

The father of at least one Army man, who died along with three others after they were struck by the avalanche at an altitude of 19,000 ft at in Siachen, was unaware of the tragedy more than 24 hours of the incident.

Jagga Singh, who is in Border Security Force (BSF) and posted in Delhi, had only been told to reach home in Punjab’s Hoshiarpur as “some emergency has erupted”. The mortal remains of his son, Sepoy Dimpal Kumar, would reach their native place soon after Jagga Singh reaches village Saidon in Hoshiarpur.

Mukhtiar Singh, the husband of the village sarpanch, told The Indian Express that he had received a call from the local police station. “They informed us about the incident. The body will reach here Wednesday morning, hours after his father reaches home,” Mukhtiar Singh, said, adding Dimpal Kumar had joined Army two years back.

A group of eight persons, including six Army personnel, were struck by the avalanche at an altitude of 19,000 ft at around 3pm Monday. Rescue teams from nearby posts were rushed to the location after the incident. Only two Army personnel survived the avalanche, an official said.

Mortal remains of Army men would reach Air Force station in Chandigarh, Wednesday. From there, the remains will be taken to their native places in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.

Those who died in the tragedy include Sepoy Manish Kumar from Solan in Himachal Pradesh, Sepoy Veerpal Singh from Sangrur, Dimpal Kumar from Hoshiarpur and Nk Maninder Singh from Amritsar in Punjab.

Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat Tuesday apprised Defence Minister Rajnath Singh about the ground situation on Siachen Glacier where an avalanche claimed the lives of four Army personnel and two porters.

“Raksha Mantri Shri @rajnathsingh spoke to the Chief of Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat, regarding the tragedy in Siachen. CoAS has apprised RM of the ground situation in Siachen,” the Defence Minister’s office tweeted.
Singh also expressed anguish over the death of the Army personnel and civilians. “Deeply pained by the demise of soldiers and porters due to avalanche in Siachen. I salute their courage and service to the nation. My heartfelt condolences to their families,” Singh tweeted.

Kirpal Singh, the father of Sepoy Veerpal Singh, who hailed from village Gowara in Sangrur, is a daily wage labourer. “My elder son sells timber wood, but Veerpal always wanted to be a fauji. I too did not stop him from fulfilling his desire. He had been recruited 20 months back. I had no idea he will come like this,” a sobbing Kirpal Singh said.
Veerpal had last visited the village three months back.

Meanwhile, Himachal Pradesh Governor Bandaru Dattatraya and Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur expressed their condolences at the death of Sepoy Manish Kumar. In his condolence message, the governor described Manish as a great patriot and soldier who sacrificed his life for the nation. He prayed for peace to the departed soul and strength to the bereaved family members.

The CM, while expressing his heartfelt condolence, said he salutes his courage and service to the nation. Manish, 22 was a resident of Dochi village in Solan district. He was posted in the Dogra Regiment of the Indian Army.

The Siachen Glacier at the height of around 20,000 ft in the Karakoram range is known as the highest militarized zone in the world where soldiers have to battle frostbites and strong winds in sub-zero temperatures.

Avalanches and landslides are common at the glacier during the winter and temperatures can drop to as low as minus 60 degrees Celsius.

With inputs from ENS & PTI in Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Shimla, New Delhi