It all started right after the partition when India and Pakistan signed the Lahore Declaration on 21 February 1999 to finally put a peaceful stop and find a mutual solution to the conflict of Kashmir. But the full stop was mere comma for we had to face the most destructive war of all times. The infiltration of some of the Pakistani armed forces ignited a war. Some of the elements crossed the LOC which serves as de facto between two countries. It was named ‘operation Badr’. As soon as the Indian government got the information about the enemy status, they responded with ‘operation Vijay’ and mobilized 20,000 soldiers of the Indian troops to tackle with the enemy. More than 60 days long war ended on the 26th of July 1999 with the loss of life on both sides. Indian army regained their stature and posts and the enemy was forced back to where they came from. From the day forth July 26, 1999, is marked as the Kargil Vijay Diwas.
“Either I will come back after hoisting the Tricolour (Indian flag), or I will come back wrapped in it, but I will be back for sure.” – Captain Vikram Batra
That winter of 1999
It is a general practice of both Indian and Pakistani armies to abandon their posts due to the unbearable freezing winters in Kashmir and reoccupy them in the spring. The plan was the same that year as well, except that Pakistan had some different track in mind. Spring of 1999, when the Indian army was supposed to move back to the forward posts, was already occupied by the Pakistan Army. The enemy strategy was to cut off the link between Ladakh & Srinagar so that the Indian army would withdraw their forces from Siachen glacier and thereby forcing India to negotiate over the Kashmir border dispute. India would never surrender to such terms and nor we did. Hence, the war to take back the honor began. Kargil became the mainland to witness the hardihood, chivalry, and sacrifice of our soldiers.
”The enemy is only 50 yards from us. We are heavily outnumbered. We are under devastating fire. I shall not withdraw an inch but will fight to our last man and our last round.”-Major Somnath Sharma
What became of Kargil?
Kargil became the war memorial itself, with blood, sweat, and tears of joy of more than 20,000 soldiers where they stood shoulder to shoulder aiming guns at the enemy and fought till they painted the picture of victory red with their own blood. Nothing wavered our soldier from taking the hold of what was ours. The war cries are still audible when you close your eyes and all the declarations of our soldiers are still fresh not only on the statutes and engravings but in the heart of every Indian. Indian Armed Forces lost the lives of brave 527 soldiers, but as they used to say “If I go on, I shall die; If I stay behind, I shall be dishonored; It is better to go on.” and so all those who martyred continued their journey in the souvenir of war.
“If death strikes before I prove my blood, I swear I’ll kill Death” – Capt Manoj Kumar Pandey
Even after 20 years: Gallantry is intact
The year 2019 completes the 20-year of Kargil War but we haven’t forgotten even for a second what our soldier sacrificed. As Indian Army says “When you go home, tell them of us and say, for their tomorrow, we gave our today.” That year mothers lost their sons, children lost their fathers and us Indians lost more than just soldiers but gained respect from the world. Our soldiers stood firmly on the face of every opposition. 20 years post the historic war, seasons over time may have washed the blood from the land but the air in Kargil is still filled with the valor of all our martyrs. Kargil gives strength to our soldiers today and not only to them it is the source of inspiration and sacrifice for the new blood that teaches how one should make the best of his/her life for the country.
“Quartered in snow, silent to remain. When the bugle calls, they shall rise and march again.” – The scroll of honor at the Siachen base camp.
This year’s Celebrations in Dras:
This year Dras War Memorial is prepared with full swing. President Ram Nath Kovind is expected to witness the event. From New Delhi to Dras, The Kargil victory flame is being carried in a relay. In the national capital, Rajnath Singh handed over the flame ace army shooter Subedar Jitu Rai. In Dras on July 26, Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat will receive the victory flame. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and the three services’ chiefs – Indian Army, Indian Air Force, and Indian Navy will be performing the wreath-laying ceremony at Dras War Memorial. A flypast by the Indian Air Force and Army shall also be witnessed at the location.