Kargil Vijay Diwas is marked in India to honour the sacrifices made by soldiers of the Indian Army during the 1999 Kargil War. It has been 23 years since the war. ‘Operation Vijay’ was fought by India against Pakistan in the Kargil sector of Jammu and Kashmir, now Ladakh. On 26 July 1999, the Indian troops announced their victory over Pakistani rangers after nearly three-month-long armed battles on the icy heights of Kargil. They hoisted the tricolor after recapturing the peaks occupied by Pakistani soldiers.
After the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War, both nations rarely engaged in direct armed battles. However, they were trying their best to control the Siachen Glacier by setting up military outposts on nearby ridges which resulted in military scuffles in the 90s. When the situation was going out of control after both countries conducted the nuclear tests in 1998, the Lahore Declaration was signed in February 1999 to provide a peaceful solution.
But the Pakistan Army was running a secret mission to enter the Indian side of the Line of Control (LOC) with the aim of severing the link between Ladakh and Kashmir. Their other aim was to force the Indian soldiers to withdraw from the Siachen Glacier. After finding out about their plan, the government of India responded immediately and wasted no time in mobilizing approximately 200,000 Indian troops in that region. They named this counter mission ‘Operation Vijay’.
The Pakistan Army started the war with an advantage as they were positioned at higher altitudes which made it easy for them to shoot their Indian counterparts. They shot down two Indian fighter jets and another got crashed. During the fight, Pakistan sought US’s intervention when then US President Bill Clinton asked them to withdraw their troops from the LOC.
While Pakistan was busy withdrawing, the Indian Army attacked the rest of the Pakistani outposts and conquered the peaks. By 26 July, they successfully completed the mission. A total of 527 Indian armed soldiers lost their lives during the war while 700 deaths were recorded in the Pakistan camps.
After the battle was won by India, Pakistan denied its involvement in the war. They put the blame on the Kashmiri separatists. But later, they were seen giving medals to their soldiers engaged in the battle.
India marked its victory on 26 July and since then, the day is celebrated annually all across the country with immense pride.