Shimla: Himachal Pradesh on Tuesday sought a separate battalion in the Indian Army for the state in view of a large number of people serving the armed force.

This demand was raised at a meeting here between Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and Chief of Staff Headquarters (Western Command) Lt Gen P.K. Bali.

Several issues of mutual interest were discussed at the meeting, a statement by the state government said.

The Chief Minister said the state is proud to have the maximum number of soldiers in the Indian Army in proportion to the population.

The state also has over 100,000 ex-servicemen and the government has launched several schemes for their welfare.

The Chief Minister felt the need to have a separate Himachal battalion in the armed force keeping in view the services being rendered by the youth of the state in the Army, said the statement.

Thakur said the state would also take up the matter for establishing a territorial army of the youth belonging to the state.

He said the army provided support and cooperation to the state at the time of natural calamity, particularly to rescue stranded people in the Lahaul valley and from Holi in Chamba district due to untimely snow.

The Chief Minister urged the army to use SASE helipad for civil flights as well so that it could be used to facilitate the tourists visiting the area.

General Bali assured the Chief Minister that he would take up the matter with the authorities concerned for consideration.

He said the army would also provide all support for the construction of War Memorial at Dharamsala in Kangra district.