He Died in 1984 Avalanche. His Body Was Just Found

Body of Indian soldier Chandrashekhar Harbola found in ruined shelter on Siachen Glacier
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2022 10:20 AM CDT
He Died in 1984 Avalanche. His Body Was Just Found
This Feb. 1, 2005, file photo shows an aerial view of an Indian army camp at Siachen Glacier, about 470 miles northwest of Jammu, India.   (AP Photo/Channi Anand, File)

(Newser) – An Indian soldier who disappeared in an avalanche in the Himalayas almost 40 yers ago will finally be laid to rest. The body of Chandrashekhar Harbola was discovered Saturday on the Siachen Glacier along the India-Pakistan border, a disputed area the two countries have been fighting to control since 1984. Harbola had been involved in India's Operation Meghdhoot, with the goal to occupy key areas above 16,000 feet of elevation that year. He was specifically tasked with seizing Point 5965 when his team was caught in an avalanche on May 29, 1984, per the Times of India. Twenty soldiers were thought to have died, but only 15 bodies were recovered, per the BBC.

"An army patrol was out in the central glacier region on Saturday when it spotted [an old shelter] in ruins under the snow," an officer said Sunday, per the Times. They found Harbola's remains "with his disc with his army number and weapon attached, inside the shelter at Shiv Top over 16,000 feet." The soldier's 65-year-old wife and two daughters, who were 4 and 8 when he disappeared, said the discovery would bring them closure, according to the outlets. He's to be laid to rest with full military honors in a funeral in Haldwani, in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, the BBC reports.

A second body was also found but hasn't been identified. According to the Times, more than 1,000 Indian soldiers have died in the Saltoro Ridge region of the glacier since 1984, with roughly 75% of those deaths caused by terrain or climatic conditions. This isn't the first time a body has been found after decades. A patrolling unit discovered the body of Tukaram V Patil, who vanished in the area in 1993, more than two decades later, in 2014, per the BBC. Soldiers from both India and Pakistan continue to operate in the area, which has been marked by more recent avalanche deaths, including those of 129 Pakistani soldiers in 2012 and 10 Indian soldiers, including one who was initially found alive, in 2016. (Read more India stories.)

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