Helion's Operation Meghdoot: India's war in Siachen 1984-2020

Author/Artists: Sanjay Badri-Maharaj


Helion  Publishing


$29.95 MSRP from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 64 pages, softcover, photos and maps
ISBN 978-1-914059-30-8

Ever since The Indian Independence Act of 1947 which separated British India into what became Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, there have been tensions between the two nations. Some was simply a 'Cold War' such of situation, while other times it was full fledged war and yet others there were smaller conflicts.

Not surprising is that the extreme northwestern area of India (basically Kashmir) has been the cause of many of these conflicts. Currently India controls part of the area while Pakistan has the other. The Siachen is a glacier that is located in the north western part of India, next to the Pakistan and China border. It is located at an elevation of 17,000 feet so is not only in an uninhabited area, but is also quite inhospitable. In fact, the only people who had visited this area are mountain climbers and not very many of them.

Pakistan claims sovereignty over the glacier and Pakistani maps show that it is within Pakistan's borders. However, India also claims that area and thought that maps showed such. However, in 1983, while looking over maps of the area it was discovered that Pakistan had, for years, not only had its maps show the area as Pakistani, but had been authorizing climbing and rafting expeditions in the area. One thing that led to this was that Indian Intelligence reported Pakistan purchasing equipment for operating at extreme altitudes.

The race was on. Pakistan had hoped to place troops on the glacier, thereby cementing their claim to the area and wanted to pre-empt India from doing the same thing. They planned on their expedition for May 1984 when the winter was nearly over. However, India pre-empted their pre-emption by beating them to it and had troops in the passes starting in April of 1984. Pakistan then made a concerted effort to push the Indian Army out of the area, but since India held the high ground, their efforts were not successful. This began a series small events that did not changed the status quo. A ceasefire was signed in 2003, but it has not changed either side's opinions of to whom it belongs.

The author has done considerable research into the subject. The Siachen is often called 'The Third Pole' as it is harsh to the extreme. Keeping troops there at such altitudes requires considerable training and acclimatizing. It is also difficult to keep supplied as there are no airfields in the area and many helicopters cannot operate well at that elevation. However, India is determined to keep the area under their control. It all makes for a great book where battling the conditions is as difficult if not more than combat in the mountains. It is very much a great read and I can easily recommend this one to you. 

July 2021

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