26 July 1999
Kargil Vijay Diwas
India observes Kargil Vijay Diwas on 26th July every year to mark the anniversary of the day we achieved victory over Pakistani infiltrators in the 1999 Kargil War. This day is also a day of remembrance for the hundreds of Indian soldiers who were martyred in this war initiated by Pakistan.
- The Kargil war which broke out in May 1999 continued for 60 days up until 26th July when the war was officially declared over.
- Local shepherds first reported the presence of Pakistani infiltrators in Kargil in District Baltistan in the Ladakh region of Jammu & Kashmir on 3rd May 1999.
- The Indian army set up patrol units along the area on 5th Five Indian patrolling soldiers including Captain Saurabh Kalia were captured by Pakistani forces alive and brutally tortured to death.
- Heavy shelling by the Pakistanis started on 9th This was meant as cover fire to engage the Indian troops so that infiltrators could enter Indian Territory along the LOC.
- Infiltrations occurred in the Dras, Mushkoh and Kaksar sectors.
- The Indian Army moves its troops from the Kashmir Valley to the Kargil sector during the middle of May. The Indian Air Force also engages the infiltrators by the end of May.
- Intense fighting continued from both sides.
- In early June, the Indian army released documents that confirmed the involvement of the Pakistani army which rubbished claims by the latter that the infiltrations were done by Kashmiri “freedom fighters”.
- Even though initially taken by surprise, the determined Indian Army recover many positions and posts from the other side. Our soldiers fought bravely in hostile environments of mountainous terrain, extremely high altitudes and harsh cold weather conditions.
- On 4th July, the Indian army captured Tiger Hill after a battle that lasted 11 hours. The next day, India recovered Drass.
- These were major breakthroughs.
- Internationally, Pakistan was losing face because of vital proofs regarding its army’s involvement in the war. The USA led by Bill Clinton had asked Pakistan’s Nawas Sharif to withdraw troops.
- On 5th July, Sharif announced after meeting with Clinton that Pakistan was withdrawing troops.
- The pull-out by Pakistani forces started on 11th On 14th July, the then Indian Prime Minister A B Vajpayee announced that Operation Vijay (the codename given to the Kargil War) was a success.
- The war officially came to an end on 26th All Pakistani intruders are evicted from Indian soil.
- Pakistan initiated the war despite India’s overtures of talks such as the inauguration of the Delhi-Lahore and the signing of the Lahore Declaration.
- The G8 countries, the ASEAN, the USA and the EU supported India on the conflict. Even China insisted on a pull-out of troops and restoration of the pre-war status quo.
- India was also praised for showing amazing restraint by not crossing the LOC and escalating the situation into an all-out war between two nuclear-states.
- The official Indian death toll was 527. A further 1363 Indian soldiers were wounded in the conflict. Let us remember those who sacrificed their lives and youth for the sake of our safety and security. Jay Jawan!
See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.