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Let Siachen be a peace mountain: PM
Rules out redrawing of established borders

Siachen, June 12
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the time had come to convert the world’s highest battlefield, Siachen, into a “peace mountain” without redrawing “established borders”.

“Now the time has come and we should try to convert this battlefield into a peace mountain,” the Prime Minister said in his address to the troops at the base camp here before winding up his three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir.

Ruling out recasting geographical contours, the Prime Minister said in his address, delivered in Hindi, that “these borders are not only necessary but also indispensable for the honour of our country”.

Any solution arising from the ongoing peace process with Pakistan would take “full care” of the security and well-being of the troops.

Dr Manmohan Singh, who also made an aerial survey of the forward areas along the Siachen glacier for about 20 minutes, ignoring the advice of Army officials and his personal physician, told the jawans and officials of the armed forces that the whole country was concerned about them. “I am proud of seeing your patriotism and your determination,” he said.

Telling them that he was here to see how to provide some relief from the difficult living conditions, he announced the construction of two home theatres for their entertainment and a CT-scan centre for better healthcare facilities.

He told them that they were keeping vigil on the barren, hostile mountains to protect the honour of the country without grumbling.

“But the question arises how long this situation can continue. On the one hand, the youth of this country is protecting the country by sacrificing its happiness and on the other, the troop deployment is affecting the sanctity of the mountains. We should create an atmosphere in which no one perceives any danger and this place becomes an example of perfect peace,” he said.

Asked to throw more light on this statement, the Prime Minister told reporters at Leh before taking his special flight to Delhi, that “we have to consider new ways” to resolve the problem.

To a question on his visit to Siachen, he said, “I was privileged to go to Siachen where our brave soldiers are defending our frontiers so gallantly. It was a great emotional moment for me.”

To another query, he said the people of Ladakh could rest assured that the Centre would do everything to bring peace and prosperity for them.

During his three-day visit, the Prime Minister stayed at Leh on both intervening nights. He laid the foundation stone for two 45-MW hydel power projects—one in Kargil and another at Leh—to improve the power situation in the region and addressed the jawans and officials of 14 Corp, besides visiting Siachen.

Immediately on his arrival at the Siachen base camp, Dr Manmohan Singh took rest for about 20 minutes, before giving his address and proceeding on the aerial survey. In all, he spent about two hours in the area.

The first Prime Minister to visit the Siachen sector in Jammu and Kashmir situated at over 12,000 ft altitude, he said efforts should be made to create such an atmosphere of peace here wherein “nobody fears any threat, there is no scope for any conflict and this place becomes an example of peaceful environment.”

Briefed by top Army officers about the prevailing situation, he noted in the address to troops here that “Siachen is called the highest battlefield” where living is very difficult.

“How long shall we allow such conditions to prevail (in Siachen)?” he said. “Now the time has come for us to make efforts to convert this battlefield into a peace mountain.”

He added talks were going on with Pakistan in this regard.

Emphasising that India wanted peaceful relations with Pakistan, the Prime Minister, however, asserted that in pursuit of this, “we are not ready to accept any changes in the drawn and established boundaries of the country.

“We feel, these boundaries are important not only for our security but it relates to the country’s honour also. For this prestige, Indian soldiers are happily bearing difficulties here (in Siachen).”

He said the path of the future may be ridden with challenges and difficulties but with everyone’s contribution these will be overcome. — UNI, PTI


First PM to visit Siachen

Siachen, June 12
Dr Manmohan Singh today created history by becoming the first Prime Minister to visit the inhospitable Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest battlefield.

The 73-year-old Premier, who has undergone a cardiac by-pass surgery, undertook the trip to the Glacier situated at more than 12,000 feet above sea level for first-hand account of the conditions in which the troops are deployed. — PTI


Promises talks on Kailash yatra with China

Leh, June 12
Observing that there was an improvement in the Sino-India ties, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said India would take up with China the issue of opening up of the route to Kailash Mansarovar through Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir.

“We will make an effort,” he told reporters at Leh airport when asked whether there was any hope of the Ladakh route opening up to Kailash Mansarovar yatra.

“Our relations with China are improving. We will raise this issue (opening of the route) with them in talks,” he said before winding up his three-day tour of Ladakh region during which he visited Siachen glacier and addressed troops there.

He had said yesterday that India would favour the opening up of the Ladakh route for pilgrims as it would reduce the duration of the pilgrimage drastically.

Thousands of Hindu devotees undertake the yatra annually to the religious place in Tibet through a more difficult and long route via Uttaranchal. — PTI

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