“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him”. Such is the thinking of the heroes protecting us day and night at the border. India and Pakistan have been fighting for more than 70 years, right from the day both the countries got their independence. While few of them are fought on the front foot, the majority of the wars fought are proxy. On 26th July 2019, one of the biggest wars fought between the two countries, The Kargil War, completed 2 decades. The Kargil War, like all other wars fought between India & Pakistan, was initiated by Pakistan and one must remember “Violence Begets Violence”.
History of Kashmir
The War history of both countries is horrifying. Both nations share the same issue or have the same reason for fighting with each other, that is, Jammu and Kashmir. Neither of the two is ready to give up its stake or claim on the state. According to the Instrument of Accession, Kashmir belonged to India as the then ruler of the state, Raja Hari Singh, willingly became a part of India in 1947. But even after this, one-third portion of Kashmir is occupied by Pakistan and is called POK by India. The rest, which is in India is called IOK or India Occupied Kashmir, in Pakistan. Today we shall discuss the Kargil War and pay respect and gratitude to the brave hearts who have laid down their lives for us and haven’t asked for anything in return.
Before knowing about the Kargil War, it is important to know about the place Kargil. Kargil, as it is known today, was earlier called Purig. But its name was changed to Kargil. The name Kargil has a meaning. It is derived from the words Khar and rKil. While the former means castle, the latter signifies centre. Thus, Kargil means a place centering many kingdoms. Before 1947, the towns Kargil and Skardu were a part of British India, separated by a distance of 103 km. It was after 1947, after the partition of India and Pakistan, that Skardu became a part of Pakistan and Kargil was added to India.
Before The Kargil War
Both India and Pakistan have signed numerous treaties in order to reduce tension between the two countries and resolve disputes. As on 21st September 2012, 47 treaties have been signed between the two nations. Out of these 11 are related to the Kashmir issue. The one which was the most recent at that time was the Lahore Declaration. Ironically this agreement was signed just four months before the Kargil War. We would not explore the Lahore Declaration in-depth as of now, it is another story in itself, but will get a slight idea about this. According to the Lahore Declaration, an understanding or an agreement was made between the two nations regarding the development of atomic weapons and to ensure that no accidental and unauthorized use of nuclear weapons is done. The agreement was signed in view of atomic tests that both the nations conducted in the year 1998. It was assumed that the relations between both the nations would improve after signing of the Lahore Declaration.
The Kargil War or Operation Vijay
Before this war, there were less than the required number of soldiers guarding the 300 km Indian border, under an assumption that there is no tension at the border and that there is no need to have soldiers in large numbers at the border. There were several flaws on our side. The region, due to its terrain, was difficult to access and the technology back then wasn’t that advanced. Aerial equipment like drones were not even invented. Also, during winters, the borders of both the nations of that place were left unguarded because of extreme climatic conditions. So obviously Pakistan took advantage of this.
Pakistani troops, in the month of February, infiltrated at 132 points within the Indian boundary. The areas were between Zojila and Leh, Mushkoh, Dras, Kargil, Batalik and Turtuk sub-sectors, to be more precise.
It was on the 3rd of May, 1999, that local shepherds reported about this infiltration. The Army at first assumed these Pakistani troops to be Kashmiri Separatists and assured to send them back as early as possible. Little did they know that the magnitude of the planned attack was much larger.
5th May 1999: Group of five soldiers lead by Captain Saurabh Kalia were sent to check this infiltration.
9th May 1999: Army Ammunition Dump in Kargil damaged by Pakistan.
26th May 1999: IAF launched airstrikes against the Pakistani Troops.
27th May 1999: MiG-21 and MiG-27 shot down by Pakistan and Flt Lt Nachiketa taken as Prisoner of War.
28th May 1999: India’s Ml-17 shot down and four soldiers were killed.
1st June 1999: Pakistan bombed NH1.
6th June 1999: Indian Army retaliated by attacking the Pakistani troops in Kargil.
9th June 1999: Two key positions re-captured by the Indian Army in Batalic Sector.
13th June 1999: Indian Army secured Tololing in Dras.
29th June 1999: Indian Army captured Point 5060 and Point 5100 near Tiger Hill.
4th July 1999: Tiger Hill recaptured by Indian Army.
5th July 1999: Dras taken back by the Indian Army. Nawaz Sharif announced Pakistan’s withdrawal from Kargil.
7th July 1999: Jubar Heights snatched back by India
14th July 1999: Operation Vijay declared successful by the then Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee
India won the Kargil War and forced Pakistan to return. We have mentioned Captain Saurabh Kalia and his five soldiers, let us know what happened to them.
Captain Saurabh Kalia
Troops were sent to combat the infiltration situation. Six soldiers, Lt Saurabh Kalia, Sepoys Arjun Ram, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Bhika Ram, Moola Ram, and Naresh Sing were captured by Pakistanis and tortured to death. Captain Saurabh Kalia was the one who reported that the intrusion was done on a larger scale. All of them were held captive by Pakistani Troops for 20 days. Their bodies were handed over on the 9th of June 1999 and the amount of torture that they were inflicted with was evident from the condition of their mutilated bodies. A person experiences enormous pain when he/she gets brushed off by a candle flame. As for those five soldiers, the pain that they experienced cannot be described in words. Before shooting them dead with bullets, their bodies were burnt with cigarettes, their eardrums were pierced with hot iron rods, eyes were punctured then removed, teeth broken, bones and skull fractured, lips, nose, limbs and private parts chopped off.
Imagine the plight of the parents of these martyrs. Till date Captain Kalia’s father is awaiting justice for the gruesome murders of his son and other five soldiers.
For this victory over Pakistan, 26th of July is celebrated as Kargil Vijay Diwas every year.