In spite of several agreements like Non–Nuclear Aggression Agreement (NNAA-1988), Lahore Declaration (1999) and different Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs) between Indian and Pakistan promising peace along the Line of Control (LoC), the two countries have fought three wars in five decades.
In the light of Lahore Declaration, Indian could have never imagined of the Kargil war that led to massive atrocities for both the sides between May and July 1999. The operation here was led by Army Chief Ved Prakash Malik.
However, Bharatiya Janata Party leader and the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had taken the initiative to settle the turf between the two countries by starting a cross-border bus service between Delhi and Lahore.
Kargil was certainly not only an ideology war or loss of human lives as it also revealed the ruthless face of a war.
World’s second largest army with 11 million active personnel’s and 10 million in reserved forces, the Indian Army is true to its practice of courage and sacrifice for its country.
Let’s take a look on India’s victory that unfortunately led to the sacrifice of several Indian soldiers:
The antagonistic conditions in Kargil were somewhat comparable to Sino-Indian Border Conflict of 1962 and the Nuke test of May 1998 carried out by both India and Pakistan raised tension along the LoC in the summer of 1999.
How they were caught?
On May 3, 1999, some local guides actually noticed some activity in the mountains of Kargil area and informed the Indian Army about it.
Pakistan’s aim to capture Kashmir
The neighbouring country had raised the issue with the United Nations to take over Kashmir along with occupying Indian posts, but failed dramatically because of Indian confrontation. While it was a major failure for the foreign policy of Pakistan, India on the other hand boasted of a great victory.
Use of major forces
The Pakistan Army and the fighters from Taliban used Stinger SAMs (Surface-to-Air missiles) to attack the Indian Aircrafts in such a high altitude warfare zone that included that mountainous region.
India lost two fighter jets MiG-21 and MiG-27 in addition to a Mi-17 & Mi-8 helicopter in the Batalik Sector.
MiG-21s and Mirage 2000 of the Indian Air Force were extensively used in the Operation Safed Sagar during Kargil war.
The attack also disclosed the inhumanity of a war where IAF’s pilot Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja was shot in the head by Pakistan military. His sacrifice on practical grounds is a cold-blooded murder under the Geneva Convention.
Captain Saurabh Kalia’s death
After the death of Captain Saurabh Kalia, his body was terribly mutilated in the second week of May along with five other Indian soldiers of the patrolling party. India on the other side provided proper coffins for martyr Pakistan soldiers and treated them with all the pride and respect they deserved.
The mass violence
On one hand where 524 Indian soldiers sacrificed their lives during revenge and 13,363 got critically injured, 696 Pakistan soldiers on the other hand lost their lives along with 40 civilian lives on the Pakistani side of LoC.
In the conflicted region, India made its strong presence by organizing 69 forefront aircrafts. Apart from this, Indian troops also braced up their position by stirring 730,000 soldiers into the region.
The last battle
In the final battle at Tiger Hill (Point 5140), five Indian soldiers along with 10 Pakistani soldiers were killed. Captain Vikram Batra also had to sacrifice for his life while rescuing an injured officer Captain Naveen.
What needs to be noted here is that Shyok River flows in the east part of the cruel land of Kargil (155×75 km area was in conflict at that time) and there were 18 degree vertical slants which were another challenge for Indian Army to take over the Tiger hill and Tololing.
A team of 22 extremely trained men approached the Tiger Hill through a vertical cliff at an altitude of 16,500 feet and it was tactically important to capture the Drass-Kargil road as spies were probable of shelling NH 1D from Tiger Hill.
The guns that fired
Along with 250 guns to supply artillery support to its infantry and ground troops, the Bofors FH-77B field howitzer played an important role for the Indian Army in securing top positions and gaining control over the region of conflict.
The victorious day
On July 14, both India and Pakistan finished the firing and the Indian PM then declared the operation by the Indian Army ‘Operation Vijay’ as a success.
On July 26, the Indian Army officially announced that the operation is completed and the expulsion of Pakistani intruders from the Indian side of LOC.
The government headed by BJP attracted massive criticism for buying the coffins at overblown rates. The CAG also confirmed some wrongdoing in the scam.
Scroll down for the conflict events:
•May 3: Pakistani intrusion in Kargil reported by local shepherds
•May 5: Indian Army patrol sent up; five Indian soldiers captured and tortured to death.
•May 9: Heavy shelling by Pakistan Army damages ammunition dump in Kargil
•May 10: Infiltrations first noticed in Dras, Kaksar, and Mushkoh sectors
•Mid-May: Indian Army moves in more troops from Kashmir Valley to Kargil Sector
•May 26: IAF launches air strikes against infiltrators
•May 27: IAF loses two fighters — MiG-21 and MiG-27;. Flt Lt Nachiketa taken POW
•May 28: IAF MI-17 shot down by Pakistan; four air crew dead
•June 1: Pakistan steps up attacks; bombs NH 1A
•June 5: Indian Army releases documents recovered from three Pakistani soldiers indicating Pakistan’s involvement
•June 6: Indian Army launches major offensive in Kargil
•June 9: Indian Army re-captures two key positions in the Batalic sector
•June 11: India releases intercepts of conversation between Pakistani Army Chief Gen Pervez Musharraf, while on a visit to China and Chief of General Staff Lt Gen Aziz Khan in Rawalpindi, as proof of Pakistani Army’s involvement
•June 13: Indian Army secures Tololing in Dras
•June 15: U.S. President Bill Clinton, in a telephonic conversation, asks Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to pull out from Kargil
•June 29: Indian Army captures two vital posts: Point 5060 and Point 5100 near Tiger Hill
•July 2: Indian Army launches three-pronged attack in Kargil
•July 4: Indian Army recaptures Tiger Hill after an 11-hour battle
•July 5: Indian Army takes control of Dras. Sharif announces Pakistani army’s withdrawal from Kargil following his meeting with Clinton
•July 7: India recaptures Jubar Heights in Batalik
•July 11: Pakistan begins pullout; India captures key peaks in Batalik