DATE=7/1/2000 TYPE=REPORTERS NOTEBOOK TITLE=INDIA-KASHMIR NUMBER=5-46599 BYLINE=ANJANA PASRICHA DATELINE=NEW DELHI CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: One year ago, Indian troops were engaged in a fierce operation to recapture high mountain peaks from Muslim guerrilla infiltrators in Kashmir. Hundreds of Indian soldiers are now posted in these remote mountains year-round to guard the country's borders. Anjana Pasricha recently visited some army camps in the Himalayan mountains of Kashmir, and reports on the gigantic effort needed to maintain troops on these inhospitable peaks when winter snows cut them off from the rest of the country. Text: I had visited the Machoi glacier -- a stark sheet of ice spread out on the Himalayan mountains in Indian Kashmir at a height of 5000 meters. Indian army soldiers had pitched a camp among the jagged peaks, and were learning how to scale the glacier. This is part of their training for high altitude warfare. There is no habitation for miles around. Beyond this point, lie isolated border towns and villages along India's frontier with Pakistan, and more army camps. To return to the Kashmiri capital Srinagar, I had to travel down a narrow, winding mountain road - a part of India's National Highway 1 A. For India this is a srategically vital road. It is the only surface link between Kashmir's remote border regions, and the rest of the country. The soldiers warned me to hurry back - or I could be caught in a traffic jam. I thought they were joking, and wondered how there could be a traffic snarl in this desolate spot. Until I turned a bend, and came upon a line of trucks that appeared to stretch endlessly down the mountain. Perched on the high road, I could see hundreds of army and civilian trucks crawling slowly up the road. I was told they are a common sight in summer in these mountains. They are known as the army convoys -- and are the heart of a gigantic operation that makes it possible to maintain troops on icy heights of up to 6000 meters, and for people in remote settlements to survive the harsh winter. As soon as the snows melt by mid-May and the road is accessible, the convoys begin to ferry supplies to the troops, and the civilian population in the remote districts of Kargil, Leh and Ladakh. For six months, until the road is again buried under snow, the convoys carry virtually every supply the troops are likely to need in their bleak bunkers- tens of thousands of gallons of kerosene, foodstuff, vegetables, warm clothing, soaps, stoves and weapons. It's known as winter-stocking. The trucks begin their daily journey from the nearest railhead, and can take up to a week to reach their destination. Army officials say sending the convoys is a mammoth task that requires meticulous planning. The road is called a national highway - but it deteriorates to little more than a dirt track at points. The snow in winter breaks the surface. Landslides leave behind boulders. But there is little time to repair the only surface link to the mountain posts. Supplies must be carried as long as the road is open. In winter helicopters only ferry essential supplies and letters to the troops. The road is narrow. Only a single vehicle can pass at most points. To avoid snarls, in the morning hours, the empty trucks return from the mountains - and in the afternoon the traffic begins up the hills. I was travelling in the wrong direction - and had to halt often to make way for the convoy. The one-hour journey takes more than four hours to complete. And as my jeep clung precariously to the edge of the road , I was told accidents and breakdowns are common. The guns may be silent across the India-Pakistan border. But preparations for war are always on in these mountains that are among the most volatile regions in the world. And the operation to maintain troops on some of the world's highest peaks appeared as awesome as the mountains around me. (signed) NEB/AP/PLM 01-Jul-2000 05:56 AM EDT (01-Jul-2000 0956 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .