Srinagar, May 10: President Ram Nath Kovind on Thrusday flew to the world's highest battle field to address soldiers posted at the Siachen glacier, sometimes also referred to as the "Third Pole" where temperatures can dip to minus 50 degrees Celsius.
Kovind, also the Supreme Commander of Indian armed forces, addressed the soldiers at the nearly 6,000-metre high mountain glacier where the Line of Control (LoC) -- the de facto border -- between India and Pakistan ends. He was accompanied by Army Chief General Bipin Rawat and Lt.Gen. D. Anbu, who heads the army's Northern Command.
He told the soldiers that as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and as the President of India, he was "carrying the gratitude of the entire country" for them for their bravery and valour they have shown in protecting the nation's border even at such inhospitable and extreme weather conditions.
"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," he said, according to a statement from the President's office.
He said the "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 has given every Indian the confidence that our borders are safe and secure."
He told the troops posted there that all citizens of India and the government were always with them and supportive of their families.
Kovind is the first President to visit the camp since the then President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam flew there in 2004.
After arriving at Thoise airfield in Nubra Valley of Ladakh, he 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 base camp where the President laid a wreath at the 'Siachen War Memorial' in memory of 11,000 soldiers and officers killed since the Indian Army began Operation Meghdoot on the Siachen glacier on April 13, 1984.