India is observing Kargil Vijay Diwas on Sunday to commemorate its victory over Pakistan in the high-altitude conflict in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kargil district and along the Line of Control (LoC) and pay tributes to soldiers who lost their lives more than two decades ago.
India launched Operation Vijay to clear the posts in the Kargil sector, which was occupied by the Pakistani soldiers and infiltrators on the Indian side of the LoC.
The armies of the nuclear-armed nations fought the war between May and July in 1999.
The Indian Army, with the help of the Indian Air Force (IAF), wrested back the glaciated heights of Kargil, in the Ladakh sector, from the Pakistan army.
The Kargil War, which lasted a little over two months and ended on July 26, 1999, led to 527 deaths on India’s side.
Here are some facts about the Kargil War:
* India and Pakistan fought the Kargil War between May and July of 1999 in Kargil district under the temperature of minus 10 degree Celsius.
* The conflict began after Indian forces detected infiltrations by Pakistani troops and terrorists into Indian territory. The Pakistani side had a strategic advantage during the start of the conflict as they positioned themselves in key locations and could fire at advancing Indian troops.
* The Indian Army was able to ascertain the points of incursion based on information from local shepherds and launched Operation Vijay.
* IAF’s launched its air operations under Operation Safed Sagar in support of the army on May 26. Indian MiG-21, MiG-27 and Mirage-2000 fighters fired rockets and missiles throughout the Kargil War at the “fortified enemy positions” from their side of LoC.
* IAF had planned to bomb targets in Pakistan during the Kargil War. But the then National Democratic Alliance or NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee instructed the then IAF chief air chief marshal AY Tipnis that his fighter jets must not cross LoC under any circumstances.
* IAF also wanted to cross the LoC slightly during the Kargil War but this request was also rejected by the government.
* Pakistan shot down two Indian fighter jets while another crashed during the operation.
* The Indian Navy also launched Operation Talwar to blockade Pakistani ports, especially the one in Karachi, during the Kargil War to stop the supply of oil and fuel.
* The Indian Navy’s western and eastern fleets patrolled the Arabian Sea and threatened to cut Pakistan’s trade routes.
* Pakistan asked the US to intervene but then American president Bill Clinton declined its request, saying Islamabad must withdraw its troops from LoC.
* Indian armed forces attacked the rest of the outposts as Pakistani troops withdrew and captured the last of them by July 26.
* The official death toll on the Indian side was 527 and that on the Pakistani side was between 357 and 453.
* Pakistan had initially denied it had any role in the conflict and said that India was facing off with “Kashmiri freedom fighters.” It, however, awarded its soldiers medals for the conflict later.
* After the Kargil War, India increased its defence spending in the budget.
* The complete overhaul of India’s intelligence set-up and the creation of a younger and fitter army are among the most significant changes made by the government on the basis of recommendations of the Kargil Review Committee (KRC).
* The creation of the post of a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) was also among them. General Bipin Rawat took over as the first CDS on January 1 this year and will serve a full three-year term till December 2022.
* The creation of the Defence Intelligence Agency in 2002 and the technical intelligence gathering agency, National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) in 2004, were some of the report’s key outcomes.
* The timespan for promotions was slashed up to the rank of commanding officers (COs) or colonels and their equivalent in the air force and navy.