21 years of Kargil War: India remembering its brave martyrs

21 years of Kargil War: India remembering its brave martyrs

The nation is observing the 21st anniversary of India’s victory in Kargil war, remembering its brave martyrs who laid down their lives to safeguard our borders from Pakistani intruders. 

The bravest of the brave were awarded with the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest gallantry award for armed forces personnel. While two bravehearts – Captain Vikram Batra and Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey – received the honour posthumously, two Kargil heroes – Rifleman Sanjay Kumar and Grenadier Yogendara Singh Yadav – were awarded PVC after India’s decisive victory in the 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.

* 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 time span for promotions was slashed up to the rank of commanding officers (COs) or colonels and their equivalent in the air force and navy.

Let’s have a look at the tale of these bravehearts:

1. Captain Vikram Batra: He was an officer of Jammu and Kashmir Rifles. Batra received the gallantry honour posthumously in 1999. In an operation as part of Operation Vijay, Captain Batra killed five enemy soldiers in a hand to hand fight at point black range. Batra’s code name was Sher Shah. Batra will always be remembered for achiving a near-impossible task in the face of heavy enemy fire. Captain Vikram Batra led one of the toughest operations in mountain warfare during the Kargil war. Born on September 9, 1974, in Ghuggar village near Palampur in Himachal Pradesh, Captain Vikram Batra was from a humble middle-class background.

He was immensely popular among his classmates and teachers, and was an all-rounder at school. He was also a keen sportsman and used to take part in all the co-curricular activities.He was a green belt holder in karate and played table tennis at national level.

He was awarded best NCC cadet (Air Wing) of north India.

From a young age, Captain Vikram Batra was deeply patriotic and was always keen on joining the Army. He started to prepare for Combined Defense Services (CDS) examination after completing his Bachelor’s degree in 1995.

In 1996, his dream was fulfilled when he cleared the CDS examination and joined the Indian Military Academy where he was commissioned as a lieutenant.Captain Vikram Batra was selected to join the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun in the Jessore Company of Manekshaw Battalion in 1996, and was commissioned into 13 JAK Rifles. He was later promoted to the rank of Captain during the Kargil War of 1999.

From the sub-sectors of Drass and Batalik, Captain Vikram Batra’s Delta Company were ordered to recapture one of the most arduous and crucial peaks, peak 5140 on June 19.

Nicknamed Sher Shah, he along with his Delta Company decided to attack the enemy by surprise from the rear. At a height of 17,000 feet, Captain Batra and his men planned to approach the hill from the rear, so as to take his enemies by surprise.

They ascended the rocky cliff but as they neared the top, the Pakistani defenders pinned them on the face of the cliff with machine gunfire.As soon as they ascended the cliff and neared the top, Pakistani troops pinned them on the mouth of the cliff with machine-gun fire, but the brave Indian soldiers were undeterred by this and Captain Batra and five of his men climbed up.

Captain Vikram Batra alone killed three soldiers in close combat and despite being badly injured during the exchange; he regrouped his men and continued the mission.

Despite being seriously injured, he inspired his team to fulfil their mission. The point 5140 was captured at 3:30 am on June 20, 1999.

He was given the nation’s highest gallantry award, Param Vir Chakra posthumously for his outstanding courage, steadfast resolve, leadership, and supreme sacrifice.

2. Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey: Lieutenant Pandey was an officer of Gorkha Rifles and he was bestowed with the Param Vir Chakra (posthumous) in 1999. Lieutenant Pandey was a part of a series of attacks during Operation Vijay and he played an important role in forcing back the Pakistani intruders. Lieutenant Pandey was martyred on July 3 during the attack on Jubar Top, Khalubar Hills in Batalik Sector. He is still remembered as ‘Hero of Batalik’ for his valour. 

3. Rifleman Sanjay Kumar: He belonged to 13 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles and was awarded PVC in 1999 after the conclusion of war. Rifleman Kumar indulged in hand-to-hand combat with Pakistani intruders during an operation to capture a point in the Mushkoh Valley. The brave Indian soldier even chased the enemy, using their machine gun and killed many of them.

4. Grenadier Yogendara Singh Yadav: Grenadier Yadav of 18 Grenadiers was part of the leading team of Ghatak platoon tasked to capture Tiger Hill. Grenadier Yadav fixed the rope for his team to climb up the hill and braved enemy firing to crawl up to the enemy position. He was just 19-year-old at that time and was part of the commando platoon ‘Ghatak’ which was assigned to capture three snow-covered bunkers on Tiger Hill. While climbing up the hill, Yadav and other Indian soldiers were attacked by an enemy bunker, in which the platoon commander and two others were martyred. However, an injured Yadav climbed up the remaining 60 feet and reached the top. 

Param Vir Chakra is awarded for most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, in the presence of the enemy. PVC is circular in shape and is made of bronze. On obverse of the PVC, there are four replicas of ‘Indra’s Vajra’ with the State Emblem (including the motto) embossed in the centre. On its reverse, it shall have embossed Param Vir Chakra both in Hindi and English with two lotus flowers between Hindi and English.

PM Modi dedicates Mann Ki Baat address to Kargil Vijay Diwas:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday dedicated his Mann Ki Baat address to Kargil Vijay Diwas and shared inspirational stories from across the country in battling the spread of the coronavirus disease.

Starting his address by recalling the Kargil conflict, PM Modi said that India’s victory is very important and praiseworthy because our soldiers beat the odds and emerged victorious. He said that the enemy was perched on high grounds and still, Indian soldiers were able to beat Pakistani soldiers. “Pakistan undertook this misadventure with sinister plans to capture India’s land and to divert attention from its internal conflicts,” said the prime minister.

“Twenty one years ago on this day, our army won the Kargil War. India was then trying to have cordial relations with Pakistan but is said that it is in the nature of the wicked to have enmity with everyone for no reason,” said PM Modi.

He then paid tribute to Kargil martyrs and urged the countrymen to read and share the stories of their bravery. He also talked about Mahatma Gandhi’s talisman and asked people to do and say things keeping in mind welfare of soldiers on borders.

The prime minister then turned his attention to efforts being carried out across the country to check the spread of Covid-19. He shared some inspirational stories from Jammu and Kashmir.

“During Covid-19, Balbir Kaur, sarpanch of Trewa in Jammu, built a 30-bed quarantine bed in her panchayat. Jaituna Begum of Chountliwar in Ganderbal resolved helped created employment opportunities,” said PM Modi.

The prime minister then highlighted India’s track record in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. “Today, Covid-19 recovery rate in our country is better than others. Our fatality rate is much less than most other countries. We able to save the lives of lakhs of people,but threat of Coronavirus is not over yet. It is spreading fast many areas, we need to remain vigilant,” said PM Modi.

In his last Mann Ki Baat address on June 28, the Prime Minister had urged people to work together to make India self-reliant and technologically advanced.

“We are in the time of unlock. But, we have to be even more careful. India is unlocking, be it in sectors like coal, space, agriculture and more and it is now the time to work together to make India self-reliant and technologically advanced,” the Prime Minister had said.

#CourageInKargil #KargilVijayDiwas #ManKiBaat #PrimeMinister #NarendraModi

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