22 years of Kargil Vijay Diwas: How Indian Army dragged Pakistani infiltrators out

Written By: Amartya Sharma

India marks 22 years of Kargil victory over its belligerent neighbour Pakistan. The infiltrators were repulsed back in 1999 under the leadership of the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. As the nation remembers its brave on the Kargil Vijay Diwas, we list a few crucial moments of the war.

Peace Treaty

After the signing of peaceful Lahore Declaration in February 1999, promising to provide a peaceful and bilateral solution to the Kashmir conflict, some elements of the Pakistan armed forces infiltrated into the Indian part of the line of control (LOC).

(Photograph:AFP)

‘Operation Badr’

Pakistan launched 'Operation Badr' and was aimed at severing the only link between Kashmir and Ladakh. If successful, it would have caused Indian forces to withdraw from the Siachen Glacier. As a part of their plan, Pak soldiers dressed like pathans infiltrated the Indian borders. 

(Photograph:AFP)

Shepherd who spotted them

On May 2, 1999, a man called Tashi Namgyal, a local shepherd living in a small village called Gharkon near mountainous Batalik town of Kargil spotted six men breaking stones and clearing the snow when he was looking for his lost Yak. This was unusual for Tashi as he saw no footprints leading to the spot and it was clear that they had come from the other side of the mountain. The men wore Pathani dress and army uniforms, a few of them carried weapons too.  

(Photograph:WION)

'Operation Vijay'

Indian army cross checked the information supplied by the shepherd and found out to be correct. They spotted these infiltrators with arms and ammunition. India then launched 'Operation Vijay' and mobilised 200,000 Indian land troops.

(Photograph:AFP)

IAF's role during Kargil

According to the Air Force, the Mirage 2000 flew 500 sorties which included 240 strike missions during the Kargil conflict. The Mirage 2000 conducted airstrikes 24x7 during the month long operation. One mirage squadron flew 274 operational sorties during the operations in the hills.

The Indian Air Force had termed the Kargil conflict as "Operation Safed Sagar" as it provided air support to ground troops. India used MiGs -  MiG-21s, MiG-23s, MiG-27s, including Jaguars to push back Pakistani soldiers. The IAF also used  Mi-8 and the Mi-17 attack choppers to repel the Pakistani army holding various positions.

The Mirage proved its worth in high-altitude bombing campaigns in low visibility helping the Indian army to gain ground control.

(Photograph:Zee News Network)

Initial hiccups for IAF

After launching 'Operation Safed Sagar', the Indian Airforce began its airstrikes against infiltrators, however, they faced few setbacks. 

On May 27, the IAF lost its MiG-21 and MiG-27 fighters and Flight Lt Nachiketa was taken Prisoner of War. 

On May 28, four air crew died after IAF's MI-17 was shot down by Pakistan.

(Photograph:AFP)

India's Defence Minister during Kargil

George Fernandes was the defence minister of India when the Kargil war broke out. Fernandes said that there could be no talks between India and Pakistan regarding the Line of control until all Islamic infiltrators withdraw from Indian territory and that all shelling from across the border comes to a halt.

(Photograph:AFP)

Bofors used in war

The Bofors guns inflicted huge casualties on the Pakistan forces in Kargil war. It was the first time that Bofors guns were used as a direct-fire role weapon. They played an important role in winning the war.  

(Photograph:AFP)

Kargil Vijay Diwas

After relentless attacks by the IAF and clearing the Drass subsector of Pak infiltrators, the war came to an end on July 26. The day has since been marked as Kargil Vijay Diwas (Kargil Victory Day) in India.

Pakistan, who were globally criticised for instigating the war, had to withdraw under international pressure and due to pressure from continued fighting at battle front and left India in control of all territory south and east of the LOC, as was established in July 1972 as per the Simla Agreement. 

(Photograph:AFP)

Martyrs

Almost 550 army men made the ultimate sacrifice. As many as 1,400 were left injured. Though India lacked critical military inventory, it was compensated by the leadership of the middle and junior ranks. Vikram Batra, Manoj Pandey, Hanif-ud-din and Yogendra Yadav were lauded for their valour and supreme sacrifice for the country. 

India caused heavy casualties to Pakistan.  

(Photograph:AFP)

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