On the occasion of the 18th ‘Kargil Vijay Diwas’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday hailed the Indian armed forces for their prowess and sacrifices for the country while Defence Minister Arun Jaitley was at India Gate to pay tribute to the war heroes.
In 1999, between May and June, an armed conflict took place between India and Pakistan in the Kargil district of Kashmir and adjoining areas along the Line of Control (LOC), which serves as the de facto border between the two countries.
It began with the infiltration of Pakistan-backed terrorists into the Indian territory.The intruders positioned themselves in key locations that gave them a strategic advantage during the start of the conflict.
During the winter of 1998 -1999, some elements of the Pakistani Armed Forces were covertly training and sending Pakistani troops and paramilitary forces, some allegedly in the guise of Mujahideen, into territory on the Indian side of the line of control (LOC). The infiltration was code named “Operation Badr.”
The aim of the Pakistani incursion was to sever the link between Kashmir and Ladakh and cause Indian forces to withdraw from the Siachen Glacier, thus forcing India to negotiate a settlement of the broader Kashmir dispute.
Pakistan also believed that any tension in the region would internationalize the Kashmir issue, helping it to secure a speedy resolution. Yet another goal may have been to boost the morale of the decade-long rebellion in Indian Administered Kashmir by taking a pro-active role.
Initially, with little knowledge of the nature or extent of the infiltration, the Indian troops in the area assumed that the infiltrators were jihadis and claimed that they would evict them within a few days.
The subsequent discovery of infiltration elsewhere along the LOC and the difference in tactics employed by the infiltrators, caused the Indian army to realize that the plan of attack was on a much bigger scale. The total area seized by the ingress is generally accepted to between 130 km² – 200 km².
The Government of India responded with Operation Vijay, a mobilization of 200,000 Indian troops. The Indian Army received valuable inputs from the local shepherds which helped the armed forces to locate the position of infiltrators and other points of incursion.
After a go-ahead from the political establishment, the Indian Army launched ‘Operation Vijay’ to clear the Kargil Sector of infiltration by Pakistani soldiers and Kashmiri militants on the Indian side of the Line of Control.
The war that was fought for more than 60 days, finally ended on 26 July and resulted in heavy loss of lives from both sides, India and Pakistan.
Finally on 26 July, this day in 1999, the Indian Army successfully took control of outposts at a treacherous high altitude and glaciated terrain across the Himalayas in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, after fighting for 60 days.
Finally, war came to an official end on July 26, 1999, thus making it as Kargil Vijay Diwas.
Hailing the sacrifices of India’s courageous soldiers on the 18th Kargil Vijay Diwas, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said India will never forget the fearlessness with which the soldiers gave a befitting and unforgettable reply to the intruders.
“On Kargil Vijay Diwas, I bow to every valiant soldier who fought for India till the very last breath. Their heroic sacrifices inspire us. India will never forget the fearlessness with which our courageous soldiers gave a befitting and unforgettable reply to the intruders,” Prime Minister Modi tweeted.
“Remembering our brave soldiers who fought gallantly for the pride of our nation & the security of our citizens during the Kargil War,” Modi said in a series of tweets. “Kargil Vijay Diwas reminds us of India’s military prowess & the great sacrifices our armed forces make while steadfastly keeping India safe,” he added.
He also took the opportunity to praise the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government for displaying firm political leadership and said, “We recall with pride, the firmness demonstrated by India’s political leadership in 1999, which ensured a decisive victory in Kargil.”
Defence Minister Arun Jaitley paid homage to the slain soldiers at India Gate in Delhi. The defense minister, along with Army chief General Bipin Rawat, Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, and Air Force chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, laid a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti.
The Indian Army has planned a range of events for Wednesday to pay homage to the gallant martyrs in all stations across the seven states under the area of responsibility of the central command. The army will also honor participants of the war, ‘veer naris’, parents of martyrs, veterans, and widows.
Indian cricketers have, more often than not, been vocal about their support for the country’s armed forces. On this occasion too they paid tribute to the soldiers who died in battle. Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Anil Kumble etc, were amongst those who paid their respects to martyrs on their social media accounts.
More than 500 soldiers from Indian Armed Forces sacrificed their lives during the war. Four Param Vir Chakras, nine Maha Vir Chakras, 53 Vir Chakras and other medals had been awarded to felicitate the Kargil War heroes.
Major General Vinod Sharma, General Officer Commanding, Madhya Uttar Pradesh Sub Area, will lay the wreath and felicitate the war heroes and the families of martyrs.