Kargil Vijay Diwas 2022: All you need to know about the Kargil War
- India and Pakistan fought the Kargil War between May and July, 1999
- The Indian Army launched ‘Operation Vijay’ to recapture strategic posts occupied by Pakistani forces
- The war ended with the 'Kargil Vijay Diwas' on July 26, 1999
July 26 is commemorated as ‘Kargil Vijay Diwas’ every year in order to pay homage to the sacrifices made by the heroes of the Indian Army to attain victory over Pakistan and recapture all Indian territories in the Dras sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Kargil district. Tuesday marks the 23rd anniversary of the end of the Kargil War.
In the war, the Indian Army launched ‘Operation Vijay’ to recapture strategic posts that had been occupied by Pakistani forces, who trespassed across the Line of Control dressed as Kashmiri insurgents. The war was fought for 84 days from May 3 to July 26, with hundreds of soldiers dying on both sides.
Why was the war fought?
It started on May 2, 1999, when a local shepherd saw some men breaking stones and clearing the snow. He noticed that there were no footprints in the snow leading to spot where they were, making it obvious that they had come from the other side. He informed the Indian Army of the same, who soon learned of the Pakistani plot to capture strategic locations along the mountain ridges.
The intruders did not wear uniforms and instead were clad in Pathani outfit, with Pakistan later denying their involvement, claiming Kashmiri insurgents were responsible for the conflict. However, documents retrieved from the intruders proved they were Pakistan military personnel. They also gave medals to their soldiers for the conflict.
It is believed the entire operation was the brainchild of then-Pakistan army chief Pervez Musharraf, and that he orchestrated the conflict while keeping then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the dark.
How was the war fought?
There were three main phases of the Kargil War. The first being the intrusion by the Pakistan military personnel into Indian-controlled Kashmir and capturing of a number of key high points in the mountainous ridges.
The second phases includes India capturing a number of key transportation routes into the sectors with the Indian military pushing back the Pakistan forces back across the Line of Control in the third phase.
The Indian Air Force and Navy were involved in the warfare, launching ‘Operation White Sagar’ and ‘Opearation Talwar’ to bomb fortified enemy positions and blockade Pakistani ports respectively. The IAF had reportedly asked to bomb target in Pakistan as well, but the request was denied by then-Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The conflict is an example of high-altitude warfare, with “furious artillery clashes, air battles and costly infantry assaults by Indian troops against well dug-in Pakistani forces” as noted by Bruce Riedel, a director in the former US president Bill Clinton’s administration, in an Indian Express article available in the MEA archives.
How many were killed in the war?
India suffered considerable losses in the war, with 527 soldiers killed and at least 1,363 suffering injuries. On the Pakistani side, it is estimated that somewhere between 357 and 453 soldiers were killed.
Four Param Vir Chakra and 11 Vir Chakra, India's highest and third-highest military decorations, were among the awards given to Indian soldiers following the war.
India increased its spending in the defence sector after the Kargil War. It also completely overhauled its intelligence setup and significantly decreased the average age of Armed Forces personnel, based on recommendations of the Kargil Review Committee (KRC).
The KRC had also recommended the creation of a new post – Chief of Defence Staff in 1999, and it was created in 2020 , with General Bipin Rawat taking over as the first CDS on January 1.
Additionally, the Defence Intelligence Agency (2002) and the National Technical Research Organisation (2004) were also created as reformative steps following the war.