Body of missing Indian soldier found on glacier after 38 years

LEH, India — The remains of an Indian army soldier are more than 38 years after he was found missing on a glacier at the highest point along the heavily militarized disputed India-Pakistan border in Kashmir, officials said Wednesday.

The soldier and 17 other colleagues occupied a ridge on the Siachen Glacier, high in the Karakoram Mountains in Kashmir’s disputed Ladakh region, in May 1984 when they were hit by an avalanche, officials said.

The bodies of 13 soldiers were recovered, but five remained missing.

A team of soldiers on Monday found human remains on the glacier with an ID that said they belonged to Chandra Shekhar, one of the missing men, the Indian army said.

Shekhar was part of India’s first army unit to occupy the 76-kilometer glacier in 1984 amid battles with soldiers from Pakistan, which also controls part of divided Kashmir. Both nuclear-armed neighbors claim the entire region. Considered the world’s highest battlefield, the glacier was uninhabited before Indian troops moved there.

Since then, the two countries have deployed troops at altitudes of up to 6,700 meters (21,982 feet). They have fought intermittent skirmishes on the glacier, but more Indian and Pakistani troops have died from the debilitating conditions than from enemy fire.

At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in three avalanches in 2017. In 2012, an avalanche in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir killed 140 people, including 129 Pakistani soldiers.

Talks between India and Pakistan to demilitarize the glacier have failed.

Shekhar’s remains were flown to his home village in northern Uttarakhand state on Wednesday after a funeral with full military honours, the army said.

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