After Indian army patrols spotted Pakistani intruders atop Kargil ridges, the tensions began to rise between the two nations. On 15th May 1999, Capt. Saurabh Kalia, along with a patrol group was sent to verify the reports but were captured by the Pakistani troops. Despite numerous agreements, India and pakistan have fought 3 wars since they were granted independance in 1947. Of these three wars, one that serves to the recent memory is the war of Kargil, involving heavy bloodshed on both sides, the likes of which neither had seen before. On 26th of July 1999, the Indian army was declared victorious after they managed to force out every intruder from the motherland.
Today, as we celebrate the 17th Kargil Vijay Diwas, here are 10 facts that need to be known:
1)Kargil is situated in Himalayas at a distance of 215 km from Srinagar, and remains isolated for nearly seven months due to closure of Zojila pass connecting it with rest of the nation. It was relatively an unknown place but was of great statergic importance to Pakistan due to being at close proximity to Pakistan.
2) On May 3, 1999, local shepherds became suspicious of the activities in the mountains of Kargil area and informed the Indian Army. Reports involved presence of armed personnel building posts and occupying bunkers. This intrusion was a complete shock to the Indian army and Operation Vijay was immediately launched to cleanse the area.
3)The mutiliated body of Indian martyr Capt Saurabh Kalia, and 5 other soldiers of the patrolling party were returned in the second week of May, 1999. The Indian Army though provided proper coffins for martyr Pak Soldiers.
4)On May 24, 1999, the Indian Air Force joined the war. However it was told not to cross the LOC at any cost.
5)Though India’s battle plans were never spoken off in Public, in an interview with Barkha Dutt just two months before he died, former National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra revealed that that crossing the Line of Control was never ruled out, neither was the use of nuclear weapons.”
6)The Indian Army was provided with around 250 guns to support to its troops. The Bofors FH-77B field howitzer played a crucial role in securing top positions and gaining back control over the infiltrated areas.
7) 14th of July saw both sides ceasing the fire and Indian Army’s ‘Operation Vijay’ a called a success. On July 26 Indian Army announced complete cleansing of the valley from the intruders.
8) Pakistan was preparing for the use of nuclear deterrents. The plan was later dropped after intervention from the CIA.
9) The war resulted in heavy bloodshed on both sides. Pakistan is said to have lost around 500 soldiers. India declared the death of 500 soldiers and more than a 1000 were said to be injured.
10) The war was also clouded with charges of corruption in the buying of coffins and later defiled again by the Adarsh scam.