SRINAGAR, April 29: Captain Bana Singh, who led the charge against the Pakistani incursion at Siachen Glacier’s highest post in June 1987, is of the view that the world’s highest battleground should not be demilitarised.
The intrusion had taken place at a height of 6,500 metres – the highest point on the glacier – and this peak was renamed Bana Top in the braveheart’s honour.
‘Thousands of people have lost their lives fighting for Siachen. This (the regaining of territory after numerous supreme sacrifices) does not happen in a day. It would not be good to demilitarise Siachen. But the government will take the final call,’ the army man, who was awarded the Param Vir Chakra on January 26, 1988, for his act of exceptional bravery, said.
‘Demilitarisation is a long process. The government needs to carefully assess what is right and what is wrong. We should guard against a Kargil-like situation where we vacated the posts and they (Pakistan) came and occupied them,’ the honorary Captain pointed out.
At the same time, he maintained that the government must take all shades of opinion into consideration before arriving at any conclusion.
‘My personal view, however, is that the glacier should not be demilitarised,’ he reiterated.
He conceded that the economic cost of troop deployment at Siachen was astronomical. But he said: ‘It is for the higher authorities – the ministers sitting in Delhi – to see how expenditure can be curtailed.’
Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who visited Skardu after the recent avalanche that killed over 130 military personnel of the country, had recently expressed the hope that the Siachen issue would be ‘resolved so that both countries don’t have to pay the cost’.
General Kayani had said: ‘There will be a resolution and we want that there should be a resolution (of the Siachen issue). In fact, other issues must also be resolved.
Though his statement was considered significant and a climbdown of sorts from Pakistan’s hawkish stance on the issue, it failed to impress Captain Singh.
The latter believed that General Kayani had not taken everyone on board before making the demilitarisation offer.