New Delhi: The Army is planning to partially open Siachen for Indian tourists, an ANI report said. The plan, which comes soon after the Centre declared Ladakh as a union territory, was mentioned by Bipin Rawat during a seminar attended by several officers including senior lieutenant generals. During the conference, the Army chief reportedly said that there is increased curiosity about the Army and its operational challenges
According to the report, the aim of this move is to encourage national integration. Indians visiting Ladakh have been requesting to visit the famous war sites like that of Kargil and the Tiger Hill.
Of late, the force has been allowing citizens to visit training centres and institutions.
It has not yet been decided which areas will be thrown open for tourists.
In 2007, India had started allowing civilians to trek from Siachen Base Camp to several high altitude locations in the Siachen Glacier, which at that time was a part of J&K.
This was made possible following the peace talks between India and Pakistan since 2004.
It was an annual expedition sponsored and organised by Army adventure wing. 10 civilians were allowed to take part in the first trekking session to experience the extreme weather condition and the perilous terrain in which several troops of army function. Gradually the number increased. It was a one-month trekking programme for which willing people had to apply in the Army website.
It has not yet been decided how the tours will be conducted following the separation of Ladakh from Jammu and Kashmir.
The Indian army has occupied most of the glacier since 1987.
Questions have been raised whether opening up Siachen will draw protests from Pakistan. A source, quoted by ANI, said the entire area belongs to India and it was up to the Indian administration to decide on these matters.