It’s been 20 years after the successful Operation Vijay when on 26th July 1999, India successfully took command of the high outposts which had been lost to Pakistan. The war between India and Pakistan lasted nearly 60 days and successfully ended on July 26. Kargil Vijay Diwas is celebrated on 26 July every year in honour of the Kargil War’s Heroes.
The Pakistani soldiers disguised as Kashmiri militants and infiltrated into positions on the Indian side the LOC, which serves as the ‘de facto’ border between the two states that emerged as a war. During the initial stages of the war, Pakistan blamed the fighting entirely on independent Kashmiri insurgents, but documents left behind by casualties and later statements by Pakistan’s Prime Minister and Chief of Army Staff showed involvement of Pakistani paramilitary forces, led by General Ashraf Rashid. The Indian Army later with the support of Indian Air Force, recaptured a majority of the positions on the Indian side of the LOC infiltrated by the Pakistani troops and militants. International diplomatic opposition made the Pakistani forces withdraw from the remaining Indian positions along the LOC.
The armed conflict between India and Pakistan in Kargil and elsewhere along the Line of Control (LoC) was taking place just months after Vajpayee and Sharif signed the Lahore Declaration in February 1999. The February conference was aimed at deescalating the tensions that had existed since May 1998 over the Kashmir issue, but the issue further flared up after with the Kargil war.
The infiltration was code-named ‘Operation Badri’. The aim of the Pakistani incursion was to split 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 internationalize the Kashmir issue, helping it to secure a speedy resolution.
The Indian troops initially with little knowledge of the nature of infiltration in the area, assumed that the infiltrators were jihadis and had decided to expel them within a few days. But gradually India discovered the infiltration elsewhere along the LOC, with the difference in tactics and realized that the plan of attack was on a much bigger scale.
The Government of India responded with Operation Vijay, a mobilisation of 200,000 Indian troops. In effect, two divisions of the Indian Army, numbering 20,000, plus several thousand from the Paramilitary forces of India and the air force were deployed in the conflict zone. 30,000 Indian soldiers were involved in the military operation on the Kargil-Drass sector and the number of infiltrators has been put at approximately 5000.
“Operation Safed Sagar” was launched by the Indian Air Force in support of the Indian Army on May 25. This was the first time any air war was fought at such high altitudes globally, with targets between 6-18,000′ AMSL.
Army in close coordination with the Indian Air Force launched its final attacks in the last week of July clearing all of Pakistani forces from the area.
The war came to an official end on July 26, 1999 thus marking it as Kargil Vijay Diwas.
527 soldiers from the Indian Armed Forces lost their lives during the war.