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16th anniversary of Kargil War

Today the country is celebrating 16th Kargil Vijay Diwas, named after the success of Operation Vijay. On this day, 25 July 1999, India successfully took command of the high outposts which had been captured by Pakistani intruders. The Kargil war was fought for more than 60 days, ended on 25 July and resulted in the loss of life on both sides, India and Pakistan.

Kargil Vijay Diwas is celebrated on 25 July every year in honour of the Kargil War’s Heroes. Functions are organized all over the country to commemorate the contribution of the Armed forces. The nation is paying its homage to 527 brave soldiers and airmen who made supreme sacrifice while defending India against aggression in Kargil sector in Jammu and Kashmir. In recalling this war of significance it would be befitting to highlight the military run up to the war, apolitical traditions of Indian Army and its wont to abide by civilian authority.

After the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, there had been a long period with relatively few direct armed conflicts involving the military forces of the two neighbors – notwithstanding the efforts of both nations to control the Siachen Glacier by establishing military outposts on the surrounding mountains ridges and the resulting military skirmishes in the 1980s.

During the 1990s, however, escalating tensions and conflict due to separatist activities in Kashmir, some of which were supported by Pakistan, as well as the conducting of nuclear tests by both countries in 1998, led to an increasingly belligerent atmosphere. In an attempt to defuse the situation, both countries signed the Lahore Declaration in February 1999, promising to provide a peaceful and bilateral solution to the Kashmir conflict. During the winter of 1998 -1999, some elements of the Pakistani Armed Forces were covertly training and sending Pakistani troops and paramilitary forces, some allegedly in the guise of mujahideen, into territory on the Indian side of the LOC. The infiltration was code named “Operation Badr”,its aim was to sever the link between Kashmir and Ladakh, and cause Indian forces to withdraw from the Siachen Glacier, thus forcing India to negotiate a settlement of the broader Kashmir dispute. Pakistan also believed that any tension in the region would internationalise the Kashmir issue, helping it to secure a speedy resolution. Yet another goal may have been to boost the morale of the decade-long rebellion in Indian Administered Kashmir by taking a proactive role.

Initially, with little knowledge of the nature or extent of the infiltration, the Indian troops in the area assumed that the infiltrators were jihadis and claimed that they would evict them within a few days. Subsequent discovery of infiltration elsewhere along the LOC, and the difference in tactics employed by the infiltrators, caused the Indian army to realize that the plan of attack was on a much bigger scale. The total area seized by the ingress is generally accepted to between 130 km² – 200 km².

The Government of India responded with Operation Vijay, a mobilisation of 200,000 Indian troops.Finally war came to an official end on July 26, 1999,thus making it the Vijay Diwas.

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