Kargil Vijay Diwas: India commemorates their brave soldiers
New Delhi: The victory of ‘Operation Vijay’ happened nineteen years ago, on July 26 India commemorates this as Kargil Vijay Diwas each year. In May 1999 the peace overtures of then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had been spurned by the growing ambitions of General Pervez Musharraf, whose Kargil misadventure ended with India’s ferocious victory.
On Thursday Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman along with Army Chief Bipin Rawat, Navy Chief Sunil Lanba, and Air Force Chief B.S. Dhanoa payed homage to martyrs of Kargil war in India Gate, Delhi.
How the events unfolded
The Indian Army was informed of Pakistani intruders by local nomads, who then traced multiple infiltrations in and around Batalik sector, Dras, and Kaksar sector. The Pakistani ruse of the infiltrators being aggrieved local Kashmiri dissidents was also quickly discovered by India.
Even though India was taken by surprise and was at an altitude disadvantage, it continued heavy shelling as the Army tried capturing fortified Pakistani bunkers. The Bofors howitzers were the mainstay of the artillery division and contributed immensely in breaking the Pakistani defences.
Pakistan began heavy shelling on May 9, 1999, as cover fire to engage India as more intruders crossed over to the Indian side. The India Army began to move its troops to Kargil sector and the end of May 1999 saw air strikes by the Indian Air Force. The IAF lost its air assets as two of its fighter jets and one helicopter was shot down.
The Indian assault to gain back its territory increased multifold in the month of June and significant territorial gains were made with the capture of key positions in the Batalic sector. Tiger Hill, a Pakistani stronghold and the highest peak in the Kargil-Dras sector, was captured after an eleven hour long battle. International pressure was also mounting on the then Prime Minister, Nawaz Shariff, including diplomatic pressure by the then US President, Bill Clinton. Status quo ante bellum (the state existing before the war) was maintained and India declared July 26, 1999, as Kargil Vijay Diwas.
The Kargil war was a turning point in modern Indian history in more ways than one. It was the first war to be televised across India through emergent broadcast journalism and it was a rare high altitude battle that tested the fraught nerves of two nuclear armed nations.