Kargil Vijay Diwas is celebrated every year on July 26th to remember the sacrifice of the Indian soldiers during the Kargil war of 1999 with Pakistan. The brave-hearted men of the Indian army had aided the Indian air force in defeating Pakistan on this very day 22 years ago.
The war was fought between India and Pakistan from May to July 1999 in the district of Kargil which is in Kashmir, along the Line of Control (LOC). It is also known as “Operation Vijay”. India launched “Operation Vijay” to clear the Pakistani infiltration in the Kargil sector. A huge part of this war was the Indian Air Force’s role in acting along with the Indian Army ground troops. Indian Air Force’s role was to flush out the regular and irregular troops of the Pakistan Army. This operation of flushing out the Pakistani troops was given the codename “Operation Safed Sagar” which means “White Sea”.
Cause of the War
This war was caused because the Pakistani troops infiltrated the Indian side of the Line of Control acting as Kashmiri militants. The Line of Control is the de facto border between India and Pakistan in Kashmir. In the starting stages of the war, Pakistan blamed Kashmiri militants for all the fighting but later they messed up and left some documents because of casualties which showed clear involvement of the Pakistani paramilitary forces. Adding to that, later a statement by the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, and the Chief of Army Staff, General Pervez Musharraf, confirmed the involvement of the Pakistani paramilitary which was being led by General Ashraf Rashid. With the help of Operation Vijay and Operation Safed Sagar, the Indian Army recaptured most of the area. Adding to that, Pakistan was facing international diplomatic opposition so they had to withdraw their forces as well.
This War is the most recent example of high-altitude warfare in mountainous terrain which for obvious reasons posed logistical challenges.
Pakistan was greatly criticized for instigating war. They claimed they did not start the war and that it was the Kashmiri militants but a lot of evidence contradicted their claim and nobody believed them, for one, the war was at heights where only trained soldiers could fight, and not some simple freedom fighters.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif had flown to the United Stated to ask the US President Bill Clinton for support, who showed his clear disapproval and asked him to withdraw his soldiers from the Indian territory.
The G8 nations at that time, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States supported India. Even the European Union opposed Pakistan’s violation of the LoC. China who is known as a long-time ally of Pakistan also suggested retreating and settling the issue peacefully. Even ASEAN supported India.
Four Param Vir Chakras were awarded to – Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav, Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey, Captain Vikram Batra, and Rifleman Sanjay Kumar. And eleven Maha Vir Chakras were awarded.
- The war was fought at a height of 8,780 feet.
- The soldiers had to fight at a temperature of minus 10 degrees Celsius.
- Operation Safed Sagar was the first time the Air Force conducted an operation at the height of 32,000 above sea level.
- The pilots and engineers of the Air Force were given just one week to train.
- As many as 527 Indian soldiers laid their lives and the Indian Army built a memorial wall with all the names of the soldiers who lost their lives.
The victory of the success of Operation Vijay meant a lot to India and all the Indians. Till now, every year Indians remember July 26th as the day of victory and remember the sacrifice their fellow Indians paid for the safety of all.