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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to visit Siachen, Srinagar on Monday

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NEW DELHI (PTI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will visit the Siachen glacier and Srinagar on Monday to review security preparedness along the borders with Pakistan as well to take stock of anti-terror operations in Jammu and Kashmir, official sources said Sunday.

In his first visit after taking charge of the defence ministry, Singh will first travel to the Siachen Glacier the world's most dangerous battlefield -- where he will interact with field commanders and soldiers, they said.

The defence minister will be accompanied by Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat.

From Siachen, Singh will go to Srinagar where Northern Army Commander Lt General Ranbir Singh and Leh-based 14 Corps Commander Lt General YK Joshi are scheduled to brief him about the security scenario along the borders will Pakistan as well as on the anti-terror operations, official sources said.

In the morning, Singh will first arrive at the high-altitude Thoise airfield in Ladakh from where he will travel to the Kumar post. Then, the defence minister will go to Siachen glacier where he will interact with Army's field commanders and soldiers, the sources said.

Singh will also lay a wreath at the Siachen war memorial.

The Siachen Glacier in the Karakorum range is known as the highest militarised zone in the world where the soldiers have to battle frostbite and high winds.

Avalanches and landslides are common at the glacier during the winters and temperatures can drop to as low as minus 60 degrees Celsius.

According to official figure, the Army lost 163 personnel deployed at the glacier, the worlds highest battlefield, during the last 10 years. India and Pakistan started deploying troops at the strategically key glacier in 1984.

Sources said the defence minister will be given detailed and specific presentations on functioning of 14 Corps and 15 corps including the Army's overall preparedness to to deal with any possible eventualities and misadventure by Pakistan.

The Army's 14 Corps guards the Line of Actual Control with China as well as the Line of Control with Pakistan. The Srinagar-based 15 Corp is mainly tasked with carrying out anti-terror operations in the Kashmir valley.

The defence minister is scheduled to return to New Delhi on Monday evening.

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