On July 26 each year, India celebrates its tremendous 1999 victory at one of the highest warzones the world has ever known, which had been surreptitiously invaded by Pakistan under the guise of ‘plausible deniability’ in the Kargil district of what is now the union territory of Ladakh. Named after the successful Operation Vijay that the Army undertook to evict the infiltrators who had taken up commanding positions overlooking key highways and supply lines, Kargil Vijay Diwas is celebrated to honour the sacrifices of the Kargil War heroes and the resolve of the Armed forces and the Nation. The Prime Minister of India, too, pays homage to the soldiers at the National War Memorial (earlier the Amar Jawan Jyoti which was since merged into the adjoining memorial, at India Gate every year. Here is a little of what you need to know about the history and significance of the day:
Kargil Vijay Diwas 2022: 23 years since India’s defeat of Pakistan
The Kargil Vijay Diwas is observed on July 26 every year across the country to commemorate the Indian heroes who sacrificed their lives for the Nation. The Kargil War ended in 1999 when the Indian troops took back control over the mountain posts that were occupied by the Pakistani forces. It has been 23 years since then, but the successful outcome and the heavy price paid for it remain fresh in Indians’ minds. On the 23rd Kargil Vijay Diwas, numerous events are planned, big and small, near the then warzone and also far from it, to remember our heroes and their heroic feats.
Kargil Vijay Diwas: History & Significance
Following (and even before) the Indo-Pak War of 1971 in which India soundly defeated East Pakistan and gave rise to the sovereign nation of Bangladesh, tensions between India and Pakistan never quite settled, and although Pakistan never quite had the capability to match India in open war, it began to utilise covert methods to its advantage. While a number of incidents and escalations took place in the 80s, they reached an all-time high in the 1990s as a result of Pak terrorism in Kashmir, which the neighbouring nation frequently tried to pass off as a ‘homegrown insurgency’, especially to the international audience. In the midst of this, The Lahore Declaration, which sought to find a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir issue, was signed by India and Pakistan in February 1999 in an effort to minimise tensions over the disputed areas. However, even as the Lahore Declaration was being signed, the Pakistan army was already planning a secret invasion, sending its troops in the guise of ‘mujahideen’ into Indian territory across the Line of Control and holing themselves up at strategically key choke points.
The Indian troops in the area at first were not clear about the scope and scale of the infiltration, or its exact nature. Soon, however, they came to the conclusion that the concerted attack was planned on a much larger scale, after learning of infiltrations in other parts of the Valley. The Government of India initiated Operation Vijay and mobilised over 2,00,000 Indian troops in the Valley in response to the violations along the LoC and the contempt for the provisions of the Lahore Treaty. The war came to an end in the year 1999 after the Indian forces painstakingly conquered peak-after-peak despite being hamstrung by international norms and obligations (for instance, the IAF which had entered the battle was strictly disallowed from crossing over into enemy territory), forcing Pakistan to attempt to sue for peace. However, at that time, the US, to whom Pakistan had gone in its desperate effort to save its blushes, rejected then Pak PM Nawaz Sharif’s version and sided with India, enabling India to win favourable terms, seeking the full expulsion of all Pak infiltrators from captured territory. It came at a steep price, however. As per official estimates, 527 Indian soldiers were martyred in the war and a number also sustained grievous injuries.
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