Kargil Vijay Diwas is observed on July 26 every year to commemorate India's triumph against Pakistan. It was on this day 17 years ago that the Indian Army recaptured all the Indian posts in Kargil that had been occupied by Pakistan's army. Since then, July 26 has been observed annually to commemorate the sacrifices made by soldiers in this war.
Here's all you need to know about the Kargil war:
- The war took place between May and July of 1999 in Jammu and Kashmir's Kargil district.
- The conflict is believed to have been orchestrated by the then Pakistan Army Chief General Pervez Musharraf without the knowledge of the then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
- It began with the infiltration of both Pakistani troops and terrorists into Indian territory.
- The infiltrators positioned themselves in key locations that gave them a strategic advantage during the start of the conflict.
- Based on information from local shepherds, the Indian Army was able to ascertain the points of incursion and launch "Operation Vijay".
- The victory came at a high price. The official death toll on the Indian side was 527, while that on the Pakistani side was between 357 and 453.
- After the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971, the two sides rarely engaged in direct armed conflicts even though both the countries have consistently tried their best to control the Siachen Glacier by setting up military outposts on nearby mountain ridges. This had resulted in military scuffles in the '80s which escalated in the '90s.
- The nuclear tests that were conducted both by India and Pakistan in 1998 only made it worse. But just when everything seemed to be lost, both the countries signed the Lahore Declaration in the February of '99 to provide peaceful solutions to the Kashmir conflict.
- In the same year elements of the Pakistani armed forces were secretly training their troops to enter the Indian side of the Line of Control (or LoC). Their aim was to sever the link between Ladakh and Kashmir and also to force the Indian Armed Forces to withdraw from the Siachen Glacier.
- Initially, the Indian armed forces had a very little notion about the nature of this infiltration. Assuming they were jihadis, Indian armed forces expected to evict them in just a couple of days. However, it was only later that they realized that the whole plan of attack from Pakistan was much bigger and they spotted infiltration also along the LOC.
- The Government of India responded confidently with Operation Vijay and they recruited approximately 200,000 Indian troops to fight.
- The war that ended on July 26, 1999, is remembered and commemorated every year on the same a day, in the name of Kargil Vijay Diwas. This day is a proud moment for every Indian and thus is celebrated on a large scale all across the nation.