Entire nation paid tributes and expressed deep gratitude towards the Indian Armed Forces on Kargil ‘Vijay Diwas’, memorising the heroism and sacrifice of the armed forces in defending our borders. Their sacrifice and spirit of ‘Nation above self’ continues to inspire an entire generation. Every human and each political party came together on this issue leaving aside all the differences. Kargil war is over long back but Kashmir is still burning. Our army personnel are still fighting the battle. Indian and Pakistani armies are on the war mode, because the terror groups based in Pakistan are luring youth towards militancy and disrupting the peace here.
On 26th July, 1999, the Indian Armed Forces, as part of the ‘Operation Vijay’, recaptured Indian posts in Kargil which had been occupied by the Pakistan’s army. The cause of the war was the infiltration of Pakistani soldiers and Kashmiri militants into positions on the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC), which serves as the de facto border between the two nations. During the initial stages of the war, Pakistan blamed the fighting entirely on independent Kashmiri insurgents, but documents left behind by casualties and later statements by Pakistan’s Prime Minister and Chief of Army Staff showed involvement of its paramilitary forces, led by General Ashraf Rashid. The Indian Army, later on supported by the Indian Air Force, recaptured a majority of the positions on the Indian side of the LoC infiltrated by the Pakistani troops and militants. With international diplomatic opposition, the Pakistani forces withdrew from the remaining Indian positions along the LoC.
This war is one of the most recent examples of high-altitude warfare in mountainous terrain, which posed significant logistical problems for the combating sides. It is one of the very few instances of direct, conventional warfare between nuclear states (i.e., those possessing nuclear weapons). India had conducted its first successful test in 1974; Pakistan, which had been developing its nuclear capability in secrecy since around the same time, conducted its first known tests in 1998, just two weeks after a second series of tests by India. It is also one of the few instances of direct, conventional warfare between two democracies, as Pakistan had a democratically elected government at that time.
Kargil was the first war between India and Pakistan after the one in 1971 which had led to the formation of Bangladesh as a separate country. Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government was in power at the time of this war. The war took place despite the two nations signing the Shimla Agreement that stated ‘no armed conflict shall take place on the said boundary’. The Indian and Pakistani armies fought the Kargil War in May-July 1999 in Kargil and elsewhere along the Line of Control (LoC). Safed Sagar, the Indian Air Force’s operation, was a major part of the Kargil war. It used air power at the height of 32,000 feet for the first time. From identifying the Pakistani troops and Mujahideens to interdiction, all the actions were performed well by the pilots and engineers despite receiving just one week of training. As India witnessed television grabs of its army men in Kargil fighting Pakistan, ‘Operation Vijay’ was termed successful on this day, 17 years ago. While then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee declared the operation successful on July 14, the operation was officially declared closed on July 26, 1999.
India lost more than 500 military men on the Kargil territory while reports from Pakistan claimed that more than 3000 of their soldiers, mujahideens and infiltrates died. Built by the Indian army, the Kargil War memorial wall in Dras has inscriptions of all the Indian soldiers who lost their lives in the war. The Memorial also has a museum with documents, recordings and pictures of the Indian soldiers at Kargil.
Well, this is not enough. The Indian Armed Forces are the prime guardians of our national integrity and sovereignty. The Armed Forces, consisting of the Indian Army, the Indian Air Force, the Indian Navy, and the Indian Coast Guard, are widely respected for their bravery, discipline, and unconditional patriotic values. From controlling the world’s highest battlefield in Siachen, to executing the world’s biggest helicopter rescue mission in the form of Operation Rahat, the Indian Armed Forces have fought adversities and locked horns with intruding enemy forces to ensure a safe and secure India for all of us. However, did you know about the inclement weather conditions which the Armed Forces face for you? Do you know what emotional trauma they go through? In the past, thousands of Army personnel retired from services but their families are yet to be given what they deserve. The government has failed to honour promises made to Kargil war widows and compensation is denied to them. Every day army men get killed, we pay tributes and forget but their families who are deprived of one beloved, are neglected by the system. Army men of this country are least privileged that they have to fight for their pensions. We need to assure that the people who are guarding us are guarded by government, when they are alive as well as when they pass away.
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