Every year, 26 July is observed as Kargil Vijay Diwas in India. It marks India’s victory in the 1999 Kargil War against Pakistan. Kargil War is one of the most prominent direct and conventional wars ever fought by India. Kargil War is the third biggest armed conflict between India and Pakistan.
Background of Kargil Vijay Diwas
An armed conflict took place between India and Pakistan in the year 1999. Kargil district of Kashmir was the epicenter of this conflict. This conflict between the two nations was triggered by the infiltration of Pakistani soldiers into the Indian side of the Line of Control (LOC) in the month of May 1999. The infiltration eventually led to a direct war between the two neighbor countries. Kargil War lasted for about 60 days and ended on 26 July 1999 with India gaining its previously held territories back. Since then, every year Kargil Vijay Diwas is observed in honor of the heroes of the Kargil War as well as to celebrate the success of Operation Vijay (the name given to the operation by the Indian government).
Observance of Kargil Vijay Diwas
Kargil Vijay Diwas is annually celebrated all across India on 26 July. Many events and functions are organized throughout the country to mark the victory of the 1999 Kargil War. The Prime Minister of India pays homage to the war heroes at Amar Jawan Jyoti (Flame of the Immortal Soldiers) at India Gate in the national capital, New Delhi. The day is also observed in the Kargil-Dras Sector of Kashmir. An official event is also organized at the Kargil War Memorial in Dras.
Kargil Vijay Diwas 2020
In 2020, India will be celebrating the 21st Kargil War Diwas. Both central and the state governments have already been preparing to mark the observance of this day.
However, many events, which are otherwise organized every year on this day, have either been canceled or shifted online due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid unusual circumstances, social media has turned out to be the most efficient way for the common people to pay homage to the heroes of the Kargil War. Many hashtags such as #kargilvijaydiwas #kargilwar #operationvijay have already started trending.
Details of Kargil War
On 03 May 1999, Pakistani soldiers disguised as Kashmiri militants entered the Indian side of Line of Control. The Line of Control (LoC) is a de facto border between India and Pakistan. On 5 May 1999, Indian Army patrolling started. Within a week, heavy shelling by Pakistan’s Army led to damage of the ammunition dump in Kargil. Kargil ended up becoming the center of the conflict as it faces the northern areas across the LoC. Apart from Kargil, Dras located in the south-west of Kargil was also targeted.
The climate of the Kargil-Dras region is continental. The high altitude warfare in mountainous terrain posed huge risks for the Indian Army. In a war-span of 60 days, the Indian Army and Indian Air Force were successful in flushing out the Pakistani troops and re-establishing the status quo ante bellum (situation as it existed before the war). This led to the end of the Kargil War of 1999.
Many soldiers lost their lives in the war. India officially confirmed that 527 Indian soldiers were martyred while 1,363 soldiers were wounded in the Kargil War Conflict. Kargil War so far remains the only instance of direct and conventional armed conflict between two nuclear states. Pakistan was heavily criticized internationally for instigating the war.
The Indian Government responded to the Kargil conflict by launching Operation Vijay. The main objective of this operation was to flush out regular and irregular troops of the Pakistan Army and regain control of Indian posts as it was before the war. Under this operation, nearly 2 lakh Indian troops were mobilized. However, due to difficulty in terrain, the war was largely fought on brigade or battalion level.
On 26 May 1999, the Indian Air Force launched Operation Safed Sagar to aid the Indian land forces. Meanwhile, the Indian Navy also prepared to cut off Pakistani supply routes under Operation Talwar.
On 4 July 1999, India gained control of Tiger Hill. This was an important milestone achieved by Indian troops during the war. Ten days later, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced the success of Operation Vijay. This led to formal talks between India and Pakitan. On 26 July 1999, India announced complete eviction of Pakistan troops and this led to the conclusion of the Kargil War.
Operation Vijay remains one of the finest examples of a self-imposed national strategy of restraint. The tactful approach of Indian armed forces played a significant role in limiting the Kargil War to conflicted zones near LoC.
Gallantry Awards given to Kargil War Heroes
Indian government awarded a total 15 Indian soldiers for bravery in Kargil War.
Param Vir Chakra is India’s highest military decoration. Four Kargil War heroes received this award.
|Yogendra Singh Yadav||Grenadier||18 Grenadiers|
|Manoj Kumar Pandey||Lieutenant||1/11 Gorkha Rifles|
|Vikram Batra||Captain||13 JAK Rifles|
|Sanjay Kumar||Rifleman||13 JAK Rifles|
Mahavir Chakra is the second-highest military decoration of India. 11 Kargil War heroes received this award.
|Anuj Nayyar||Captain||17 Jat|
|Rajesh Singh Adhikari||Major||18 Grenadiers|
|Gurjinder Singh Suri||Captain||12 Bihar|
|Digendra Kumar||Naik||2 Rajputana Rifles|
|Balwan Singh||Lieutenant||18 Grenadiers|
|Imliakum Ao||Naik||2 Naga|
|Keishing Clifford Nongrum||Captain||12 JAK LI|
|Neikezhakuo Kenguruse||Captain||2 Rajputana Rifles|
|Padmapani Acharya||Major||2 Rajputana Rifles|
|Sonam Wangchuk||Major||Ladakh Scouts|
|Vivek Gupta||Major||2 Rajputana Rifles|
Kargil War Memorial
Indian Army built the Kargil War Memorial in Dras to commemorate the martyrs of the Kargil War. The memorial is located in the Tololing foothills and it is nearly 5 km from the city center across Tiger Hill. Names of all the martyrs are inscribed on the memorial wall. Hindi poet Makhanlal Chaturvedi’s poem Pushp ki Abhilasha is inscribed on the gates of the war memorial.