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Kargil Vijay Diwas: A Homage to the Historic Day of 1999

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शहीदों की चिताओं पर जुड़ेंगे हर बरस मेले

वतन पर मरनेवालों का यही बाक़ी निशाँ होगा

जगदंबा प्रसाद मिश्र ‘हितैषी’ की देश-भक्ति में रचित यह पंक्तियां कारगिल विजय दिवस पर जीवंत हो उठती हैं

 

On July 26, this year, India will mark the 21st anniversary of Kargil Vijay Diwas. Kargil Vijay Diwas is named after ‘Operation Vijay’ a name given to India’s limited war against Pakistan after the neighbouring country occupied the high outposts in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kargil. The anniversary is observed across the nation to show respect and gratitude to the brave servicemen of the armed forces who laid down their lives to re-capture all positions that had been seized by the Pakistan Army. India successfully regained command over all the high outposts on 26th July 1999. The Kargil War began in May 1996 and ended on July 26, 1996, and lasted for more than 60 days. The war was fought in the Kargil district of Kashmir at a temperature of minus 10-degree Celsius. India lost 527 of its valuable soldiers in the war.

Kargil Vijay Diwas: A Homage to the Historic Day of 1999
Image Source: National Herald

This year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation in his ‘Mann Ki Baat‘ on July 26. He tweeted on July 11. Last year PM Modi had said that the day should be remembered for the “courage, bravery, and dedication” shown by the soldiers who took part in Operation Vijay.

Under ‘Operation Vijay’, the Indian government had mobilized two lakh troops. In the Kargil War, 527 soldiers from the Indian Armed Forces sacrificed their lives. The Kargil War Memorial, built by the Indian Army, is located in Dras, about five kilometres from Tiger Hill. ‘Kargil Vijay Diwas’ is celebrated by military personnel at the Dras-Kargil sector and the national capital New Delhi at Amar Jawan Jyoti, India Gate with heavy enthusiasm and vigor.

Kargil Vijay Diwas: A Homage to the Historic Day of 1999
credit: DNA India

The circumstances that led to the War

Amidst the heightened tensions after both of the rival countries had successfully created and tested nuclear weapons and the Lahore agreement that followed in 1999, both the countries consented to solve the Kashmir issue peacefully. However, during the winter of 1998, Pakistani troops began infiltrating the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC) under Operation Badr, hoping to cut off Indian troops in Siachen and force them to retreat. The Pakistani troops captured a region between 130 to 200 square kilometres and India retaliated with ‘Operation Vijay’.

The mobilization of about 2,00,000 Indian troops brought a swift and final end to the conflict by recapturing all the previously captured posts and forcing the Pakistani troops to retreat. The Kargil was a paragon of two nuclear-capable powers facing each other off in the conventional style of warfare. Towards the end, the then Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif managed to get the United state’s intervention diplomatically in order to ensure an absolute end to the conflict.

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There were some decisive strategic points which made the operation a huge success

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  • The coordination between the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force proved a major conquest 

    Atal Bihari Vajpayee- The then prime minister of India deployed the air force to help win the Kargil war. Unbeknown to most, the Navy also had a major role in helping in recapturing the peaks and roads that were taken by the opposition army and infiltrators. The country used its airpower to demoralize infiltrators and detriment their bunkers and tents. The Indian Air Force’s Operation- Safed Sagar was also a major part of the Kargil war. India threatened Pak by moving its naval forces near Karachi. USA’s army nearby too moved out of the way to help the Indian Navy, making the Operation a victorious one.

  • The siege of Tiger Hill proved prolific

    After scaling the high peak in complete darkness over a span of around 7hrs, the Indian Army managed to engage with the Pakistani soldiers and fought back to recapture the peak which took them by surprise and helped the Indian Army to recapture the post. Soon enough, Tololing peak and the surrounding ridges that overlooked the vital Leh-Srinagar highway were also recaptured. By 8 July, the army had moved its might to the Batalik heights which Pakistan had occupied in the hope of severing Leh from the Valley.

  • Live coverage of the war also set a precedent   

    Live telecasts and coverage by the National and International media alike also proved crucial to the narrative for the great victory. India realized the benefits of international attention to Kashmir and used it to its advantage. Kargil proved to be India’s first televised war, and the country made use of the media to garner a favorable response to its role in the war. The media’s role in securing affirmative notions is evidenced in the headlines of major Indian newspapers printed at that time. Such narratives proved crucial in strengthening international pressure on Pakistan and helped in gathering support and confidence of the countrymen as well.

Kargil Vijay Diwas india
Credit: MyNation

And what’s a war without War Heroes? India will never forget the likes of Captain Batra and his  Dil Maange More..! which still reverberates.  Captain Nachiketa and his stern will live, or the Tiranga Hoisting atop Tiger hill by Lieutenant Balwan Singh. These are only some names amongst the long list of Bravehearts who laid down their lives during the war. Words will never be enough to praise their sheer display of courage and undying resolve that gave India its decisive victory.

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