Many mountaineers have served with great distinction during Kargil conflict and they continue to defend country’s highest frontiers with courage and fortitude, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Monday.
Addressing golden jubilee celebrations of India’s first historic climb of Mt Everest in 1965, he hoped that Indian mountaineers will help in rebuilding lives of those affected by earthquake in Nepal.
“Over the years our mountaineers have distinguished themselves not only by scaling the highest peaks but also as brave soldiers of the gallant armed forces which have included the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). Many of them have served with great distinction during the Kargil conflict and continue to defend our highest frontiers with courage and with fortitude,” the President said.
In May 1999, India and Pakistan, in their most serious military engagement since 1971, clashed in Kargil area of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir after militants backed by Pakistan’s Northern Light Infantry occupied the mountain peaks of the region.
He said the majesty and the mystique of the mighty Himalayas have always had a special place in the hearts of the people of India.
“Only a few weeks back the Himalayan nation of Nepal was rocked by one of the most devastating earthquakes in the history of the region causing large scale damage to life and property of the people. I am certain that Indian mountaineers who have been enthusiastically going to the Himalayas for climbing, will use the same enthusiasm in the rebuilding of the lives of those affected by this great tragedy,” Mukherjee said.
He said mountaineering stokes the spirit of adventure and it can play a major role in generating a sense of purpose in the youth and make them aware of ecological and environmental issues.
“Training for responding to major natural disasters can be effectively imparted through adventure training which includes various elements of emergency rescue and survival and living in harmony with nature,” the President said.
Mukherjee appreciated the historic efforts by a 21-man Indian expedition, led by Lieutenant Commander MS Kohli, that succeeded in putting nine climbers on the top of the Mt Everest between May 20-29, 1965.
“It was a feat that stirred the imagination of the nation and made India one of the leading mountaineering nations of the world. It also created history by having the highest number of summiteers from any expedition to Everest, a record that stood for 17 long years,” he said.
The President commended indomitable spirit of the nine surviving members of the 1965 Everest expedition– Capt MS Kohli, Col Narinder Kumar, Maj HPS Ahluwalia, CP Vohra, Sonam Wangyal, GS Bhangu, Brigadier Mulk Raj, Gurdial Singh and Lala Telang.
“I am very proud that a world record was made then. For 17 long years, we maintained the record of conquering the Mt Everest by nine climbers,” Kohli said.