Remains of Indian soldier who went missing on world’s highest battlefield found after 38 years

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Officials from the Indian army said that soldier Chandrashekar Harbola’s remains will be given to his family on Tuesday (Twitter/NorthernComd_IA)
Officials from the Indian army said that soldier Chandrashekar Harbola’s remains will be given to his family on Tuesday (Twitter/NorthernComd_IA)

The remains of an Indian army soldier who went missing on the world’s highest battlefield have been found after nearly four decades.

Chandrashekhar Harbola was a part of a 20-member military unit during the 1984 war between India and Pakistan on the Siachen glacier in the Himalayas.

He was stationed there as part of the Indian military’s “Operation Meghdoot” – the codename used for India’s overall strategy to claim the strategically significant glacier, located in Jammu and Kashmir, from Pakistan.

Officials informed the deceased soldier’s family on Sunday after an army group in northern India’s cantonment town Ranikhet found his remains.

He was part of the 19 Kumaon regiment, considered among India’s top military units.

The troops stationed there were caught in an ice storm during a patrolling operation and the remains of 15 soldiers were recovered.

But five soldiers, including Harbola, were designated missing.

The Indian army’s northern command said the soldier’s remains were found in an old bunker and identified with the help of the identification disk bearing his army number.

The disk, found on Harbola’s remains, helped obtain information about the soldier from official army records.

Officials said they recovered another body from the site and are yet to ascertain its identity.

Harbola’s wife Shanti Devi said she was stunned into silence after officials informed her of them finding her husband’s remains after nearly four decades.

She was married to Harbola for nine years and had two daughters – one who was four years old and the other just a year and a half when her husband was reported missing.

The family had performed his last rites in the absence of his remains, she said, according to a report by Hindustan Times.

Officials from the Indian army said Harbola’s remains will be given to his family on Tuesday, a day after India marked its 75th year of independence from British rule.

“Officials, people from our village and nearby areas are coming here. He is our hero. As the country is remembering the sacrifices of our soldiers, I am sure his sacrifice will also be remembered,” she said, according to the report.

Harbola’s final rites will be performed with full military honours, officials said.