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Kalam to visit Siachen
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 26
“This President is different” is the refrain in Rashtrapati Bhavan that sums up the uniqueness of President A P J Abdul Kalam.

President Kalam would visit Siachen glacier on April 2, the first time the country’s First Citizen would be doing so. He would also be visiting 10,000-plus-feet-high Thoise Base Camp, the supply lifeline of Siachen and visit a hospital at the base camp and interact with troops during his day-long trip, Rashtrapati Bhavan sources said today.

President Kalam would be flying to Siachen in a special aircraft and would be undertaking an aerial view of the area in a helicopter.

It had been an unspoken custom with Dr Kalam’s predecessors in Rashtrapati Bhavan to treat Siachen as an out-of-bound area. This was despite the fact that President was the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and Siachen happened to be the world’s highest battleground for last two decades where the Army and the Air Force had been engaged in Operation Meghdoot since 1984.

Rashtrapati Bhavan sources told The Tribune today that it was Dr Kalam’s own idea and initiative that he decided to visit Siachen. He got a special briefing from the Ministry of Defence on Siachen.

Though the first-ever Presidential visit to Siachen, it would not be Dr Kalam’s first visit to “The Rose Garden”, as Siachen is meant in local dialect. He had visited Siachen when he was he was Scientific Adviser to the Government of India.

Sources said a special medical check-up would be done of the President Kalam before he embarked on the historic trip. They added that Dr Kalam’s blood pressure was okay, he had no blood sugar or heart problem and his weight was well under control.

Dr Kalam’s Siachen visit assumed significance as he had suo motu cancelled all his public meetings since March 2, unilaterally binding himself to the Election Commission’s Model Code of Conduct of the coming general elections even though the Model Code did not bind the President of India.

Fortunately for the security managers of the country, the Presidential visit to Siachen could not have come at a more opportune time as the India-Pakistan ceasefire had been holding well since it was implemented from November 23 last.


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