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“If a man says he’s not afraid of dying, he’s either lying, or he’s a Gorkha.”
— Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw

Kargil Vijay Diwas is witnessed on the 26th of July every year. This day is celebrated in the memory of India successfully capturing and conquering the high outposts in 1999. The unforgettable war began when the Pakistani army maliciously took advantage of the melting snow by reaching high points. The war broke out in betrayal of bilateral confidence between the nations that the posts remain unattended in the winter.

The Pakistani Army, on the other hand, denied any involvement in the matter, saying that the confusion was caused by certain independent Kashmiri rebels. They were trying to hide their intentions while staying clean on the matter. However, the documents and certain statements by the then Prime Minister of the country showed that they were lying all this while. There was a loss of lives on both sides but India managed to gain control over the territory and cast the Pakistani army out from there.

Kargil Vijay Diwas is celebrated every year in honour of the Kargil War Heroes. The celebrations take place every year in the Kargil sector and at the national capital of the country. To recognize and respect the brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the war, the Prime Minister of India goes to the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate on this day, every year. A bunch of annual functions take place every year all over India to commemorate the memory of the armed forces who gave their lives for this nation.

Even though the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 ended, minor clashes between the two armies continued. The dispute continued over the dominance of the Siachen glacier for a long time. The tension across the borders began a few years before with widespread distress due to the Kashmiri separatist activities in the 1990s and nuclear tests by both countries. To calm and divulge from the serious situation, the Lahore Declaration was signed in February 1999, where both countries promised to provide a peaceful solution to the current conflict. However, after a few months, they started sending Pakistani troops into the Indian territory of LOC. The idea was to make Indian Soldiers withdraw their position from Siachen Glacier, suggesting a Kashmir dispute settlement.

Image Source : Google (Caption: Siachen Glacier Map)

On the Indian side, the infiltration was assumed to be a petty issue of Jihadis and actions were taken to evict them. With later discoveries, the army realised that this was an attack by the Pakistani forces on a much bigger scale as infiltrators started coming from all sides of the LOC and not just one. The Government of India immediately took action in the form of Operation Vijay, a mobilization of 2,00,000 Indian troops. The main obstacle for India was enemy fire from the hills surrounding National Highway 1(NH-1) which is the road between Srinagar and Leh. The Line of Control was close to this National Highway and a lot of soldiers were dying due to the firing from more than 130 military posts strategically placed by Pakistan. Therefore for the Indian army, it was imperative to capture the peaks that were close to NH-1.

The operations started with Tiger Hill and Tololing complex in Dras. After that, the next mission was gaining control over the Batalik-Turtok region which helped gain entry to Siachen Glacier. Point 4590 was the closest peak to NH-1, point 5353 was the highest peak in the Dras region and these peaks were captured by the Indian armed forces. After gaining control over the region, the Battle of Tololing helped India be the dominant force in the Kargil War. Point 5140 also known as Tiger Hill was captured after the successful efforts of brave fighters including Captain Vikram Batra, Lt. Balwan Singh, Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav. Meanwhile, the Indian Air Force undertook Operation Safed Sagar to successfully support the soldiers on foot and defeat the troops along the Line of Control. In this way, they pushed the Pakistani infiltrators away from the Indian side of LOC.

The Drass War Memorial was constructed in honour of the martyrs of the Kargil War. | Photo credit: Mail2arunjith/wikimedia

The war came officially to an end on July 26, 1999, thus marking this day as it is known. Sadly, 527 soldiers from the Indian Armed Forces lost their lives during the war. Our neighbouring country was heavily criticized by the entire world after the war ended. After all, they couldn’t sell the narrative of “ Kashmiri rebels” infiltrating India. There is a memorial built in remembrance of the Kargil heroes at Dras, in the foothills of Tololing called the “ Kargil War Memorial”. The poem "Wish of a Flower” by Makhanlal Chaturvedi, is inscribed on the gateway of the structure in Hindi. There is a memorial wall that has names of the Kargil martyrs inscribed on it with a museum depicting pictures of Operation Vijay.

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