Operation Meghdoot (1984) – How India Captured Siachen?
1984 was a watershed moment in Indian history. This year saw a slew of events that altered the course of Indian history.
- Operation Bluestar at Golden Temple, Amritsar
- Indian PM Mrs. Indira Gandhi assassinated
- Anti-Sikh riots
- Bhopal Gas Tragedy
Everyone has heard about the above events. What people might not have heard is Operation Meghdoot – when the Indian Army beat Pakistan to gain control of the world’s highest battlefield 37 years ago… it is located to the north of Ladakh.
“Where cold kills more troops than bullets”
Some facts about Siachen –
- Height of more than 20,000 ft
- Usually temperature of -40°C to -70°C
- Blizzards last 20 days or more
- Icy wind speed goes up to 120 miles/hr
- Annual snowfall exceeds 35 ft
- Extreme frostbite occurs leading to organs failure
Operation Meghdoot – The calm before the storm
Pakistan decided to storm and capture the major peaks of the Siachen Glacier in 1983, in an area where borders were not clearly demarcated and both countries had competing claims. Once the winters were over, Pakistan decided to capture major peaks in the Siachen Glacier.
Pakistan Army ordered 150 arctic winter gears for its troops from a London-based supplier with a plan to station its troops at these peaks by April 17, 1984. India, too, secretly ordered and received equipment for its troops earlier. As a result, the Indian Army set out early, intending to reach the summit four days ahead of schedule. This operation was called Operation Meghdoot.
Earlier, India did not use airdrop facilities to avoid Pakistan radars, which could have jeopardized their plans. The soldiers marched on foot from the base camp to Siachen. When Pakistan learned about it, they launched an attack but were unable to move the Indian Army because it was located at a high altitude.
Operation Meghdoot – The outcome
India gained the 70-kilometer-long Siachen Glacier and all of its tributary glaciers as a result of the operation. Due to Siachen’s strategic location, India now has an advantage over both Pakistan and China.