Kargil Vijay Diwas 2020: Kargil Day is observed in India to celebrate the sacrifices made by soldiers of the Army during the 1999 Kargil war. The war was fought by India and Pakistan in the Kargil sector of Jammu and Kashmir, and was named as ‘Operation Vijay’.  It was on July 26, 1999, the Indian Army had declared successful culmination of ‘Operation Vijay’, declaring a victory after nearly three-month-long battles on the icy heights of Kargil. Also Read - 'Always With You': France's Message to India on 21st Anniversary of Kargil Vijay Diwas

Indian Army had recaptured the peaks occupied by the Pakistan Army and hoisted the tricolour atop the high-altitude Kargil. As we celebrate the 21st anniversary of the Kargil war today, let’s take a moment to learn about this historical event: Also Read - Kargil Vijay Diwas 2020: Captain Vikram Batra's Story, All You Need to Know About The War Hero Before Rooting For Sidharth Malhotra's Shershaah

How did the Kargil War start? Also Read - Mann ki Baat: PM Modi Remembers Kargil Jawans, Praises India's COVID-19 Commitment, Says Corona threat Not Over Yet

After the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971, the two sides rarely engaged in direct armed conflicts even though both the countries have consistently tried their best to control the Siachen Glacier by setting up military outposts on nearby mountain ridges. This had resulted in military scuffles in the ’80s which escalated in the ’90s. The nuclear tests that were conducted both by India and Pakistan in 1998 only made it worse. But just when everything seemed to be lost, both the countries signed the Lahore Declaration in the February of ’99 to provide peaceful solutions for the Kashmir conflict.

But, by some accounts, in the same year elements of the Pakistani armed forces were secretly training their troops to enter the Indian side of the Line of Control (or LoC). Their aim was to sever the link between Ladakh and Kashmir and also to force the Indian Armed Forces to withdraw from the Siachen Glacier.

Initially the Indian armed forces had very little idea about the nature of this infiltration. Assuming they were jihadis, Indian armed forces expected to evict them in just couple of days. However, it was only later that they realized that the whole plan of attack from Pakistan was much bigger and they spotted infiltration also along the LOC.

The Government of India responded confidently with Operation Vijay and they recruited approximately 200,000 Indian troops to fight.

The war that ended on July 26, 1999 is remembered and commemorated every year on the same a day, in the name of Kargil Vijay Diwas. This day is a proud moment for every Indian and thus is celebrated on a large scale all across the nation.

The war

The Pakistani soldiers had positoned themselves at higher altitudes, which gave them an advantage over their Indian counterparts as they could easily shoot down on them. As a result, two Indian fighter jets were shot by Pakistan, while one more was crashed during the operation. Pakistan had asked the US to intervene in the war. To which, the then US President Bill Clinton said that Pakistan will need to withdrawn from the Line of Control if it wanted the US intervention. As Pakistan worked on withdrawing its troops, the Indian armed forces attacked the rest of the outposts. By July 26, the Indian Army had managed to conquer back the last of them.

Casualties

A total number of 527 soldiers of the Indian Armed forces lost their lives during this war. Pakistan had lost 700 men.

After the war

Initially, Pakistan denied its role in the conflict. It backed its stand by saying that India was having a face-off with “Kashmiri freedom fighters”. Later, the country awarded medals to its soldiers for the conflict. This made clear their involvement in the Kargil conflict.

Coming to India, after the Army declared the mission successful on July 26, the day is now celebrated annually as Kargil Vijay Diwas. The war also prompted the country to increase its defence spending in the upcoming budget year.