President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday visited the world’s highest battlefield—Siachen Glacier—in Ladakh and interacted with soldiers posted there.

The Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces became the second President of India to visit Siachen after a gap of 14 years.  The previous visit was undertaken by President APJ Abdul Kalam in April 2004.

After arriving at Thoise airfield, the President flew to Siachen and undertook an aerial survey of the Glacier. He also interacted with troops at one of the forward posts of Siachen Glacier.

This was followed by his visit to the Siachen Base Camp where the President laid a wreath at the ‘Siachen War Memorial’ in memory of the gallant martyred soldiers.

While addressing the soldiers, President Kovind said that he has come among them carrying the gratitude of the entire country.

President Kovind noted that Siachen is the world’s highest battlefield and it is difficult to live even a normal life in the extreme climate. In such a situation, it is extraordinary for soldiers to stay in a state of constant mobilisation and combat readiness. Their determination and dedication is worthy of the highest praise – and their allegiance to the defence of India is an ideal for all our fellow citizens.

The bravery and valour of soldiers deployed in Siachen over the past 34 years, the President said, has given every Indian the confidence that our borders are safe and secure.

President Kovind said he had come to Siachen to iterate to the troops posted here that all citizens of India and the Government of India were always with them and supportive of their families.

President Kovind also paid his respects at the Siachen War Memorial, which is a symbol of the sacrifice of 11,000 soldiers and officers who have been martyred since the Indian Army began Operation Meghdoot on the Siachen Glacier on April 13, 1984.

The President also visited the strategic Kumar Post. The Kumar Post is named after Colonel Narendra Kumar, the Indian Army mountaineer who first charted the Siachen Glacier and Saltoro Range in 1978. His expedition confirmed Pakistani incursion in the region.

He was accompanied by Chief of the Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat and Lt Gen D Anbu, GOC-in- C, Northern Command.