Kargil Vijay Diwas 2023: Honoring Our Heroes

On the occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas, India commemorates 24 years since its victory over Pakistan in the Kargil War. This significant day, celebrated on July 26 each year, pays tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving during the Kargil War. On July 26, 1999, the Indian Army officially declared the successful conclusion of “Operation Vijay,” signifying victory after an intense three-month-long battle at the icy heights of Kargil, including locations like Tololing and Tiger Hill. It is reported that more than 500 soldiers laid down their lives, displaying their unwavering dedication to the safety and welfare of the country.

During the winter months of 1998 and early 1999, militants disguised as Mujahideen were covertly trained by the Pakistani armed forces and sent across the Indian side of the LOC. They managed to capture unguarded posts in the region, take control of the Kargil sector, cut off the supply route between Srinagar and Ladakh, and gain command of the Siachen region. In May, the intrusion was detected, and patrols were dispatched to assess the situation. However, India realized the involvement of Pakistan only after the infiltrators had captured several posts in the Drass, Kaksar, and Mushkoh regions. In response, the Indian government launched Operation Vijay to reclaim the area from the infiltrators.

The air force also launched Safed Sagar, a mission to support the army’s mobilization. The Indian army initiated an assault to recapture the areas along National Highway 1D, the primary supply route between Ladakh and Kashmir. The 2nd Rajputana Rifles, along with the 18 Grenadiers, engaged in a three-week-long assault that culminated in the recapture of the Tololing region, at the cost of 23 Indian lives.

Subsequently, it took them six more days to clear out enemy troops from nearby areas and gain control of the Drass sector. The Indian troops continued their advancement by capturing strategic peaks and pushing towards Tiger Hills, the highest peak in the Kargil region. However, the treacherous terrain and entrenched enemy forces posed significant challenges to the army. Throughout June and July, numerous battles were fought to secure key locations that would aid in capturing Tiger Hills. On July 4, 1999, after an intense 11-hour battle, the 18 Grenadiers emerged victorious in capturing the coveted hills. This marked a crucial turning point in favor of the Indian troops, as victory seemed within reach.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister at the time, Nawaz Sharif, sought help from the United States of America, but to little avail. Under international pressure, he eventually agreed to withdraw Pakistani troops from the Indian side of the LOC. India conducted its final assault in the last week of July, ultimately driving out infiltrators from the Drass subsector by July 26. The battle had been won, and Operation Vijay was deemed a success.

The victory in the Kargil war was made possible by the heroic efforts of our troops, and many received gallantry awards. Among them were four Param Vir Chakra, nine Maha Vir Chakra, and several Vir Chakra recipients, who set new standards of bravery and service to the nation. The war resulted in a significant number of casualties from both sides, with India losing 527 brave soldiers in this campaign. On this day, we pay tribute and remember the sacrifices made by these courageous souls of India.

Here are five important facts about the Kargil Vijay Diwas:

The Kargil War stands as a testament to the valor and dedication of the Indian Armed Forces, and it remains an indelible chapter in the annals of India’s military history.

The Kargil War presented one of the most formidable challenges in military history, with combat taking place at high altitudes, some posts positioned over 18,000 feet. The conflict saw extensive use of air power, infantry operations, and artillery. Tragically, the war resulted in significant casualties, with over 500 Indian soldiers and approximately 1,000 Pakistani troops losing their lives.

The Indian Air Force played a pivotal role during the war, providing crucial aerial support and conducting vital airstrikes to dislodge the enemy from strategic positions. The entire operation carried out by the Indian Armed Forces to reclaim the captured Kargil Heights was codenamed “Operation Vijay.”

A noteworthy aspect of the conflict was the employment of the controversial Bofors FH-77B howitzers for the first time, aimed at neutralizing enemy positions at high vantage points. This employment of Bofors created a sensation in India during that time. According to reports, an astonishing quantity of around 2.50 lakh shells, rockets, and bombs were utilized, along with approximately 5,000 artillery shells, rockets, and bombs fired from 300 guns and mortars. This marked the first time since World War II that such a massive deployment of ammunition and bombardments had been witnessed.

The Kargil War was historically significant as it became the first-ever conflict to be broadcast live and telecast on Indian television. The nation could witness real-time visuals of the frontline battles, providing a direct view of the developments on the battlefront. Additionally, Israel extended support to India during the war by providing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

The brave and valiant actions of Indian soldiers during the war were recognized with numerous gallantry awards. Notably, four Param Vir Chakras, the highest gallantry award in India, were awarded posthumously to Captain Vikram Batra, Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey, Rifleman Sanjay Kumar, and Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav. Furthermore, 11 Maha Vir Chakras were awarded for acts of extraordinary courage demonstrated during the conflict.

Here are ten Kargil War heroes and their courageous feats:

  1. Lieutenant Balwan Singh: As the leader of the Ghatak platoon, Lieutenant Balwan Singh displayed exceptional tactical acumen and courage during the critical mission to recapture Tiger Hill. At just 25 years old, he led his men through a steep and perilous path, taking the enemy by surprise. His determination and leadership played a pivotal role in securing the victory on Tiger Hill. For his exemplary bravery, he was posthumously awarded the Mahavir Chakra, one of the highest gallantry awards in India.
  2. Captain Vikram Batra: Captain Vikram Batra, also known as the ‘Tiger of Drass,’ was renowned for his fearless and audacious approach on the battlefield. During the war, he achieved remarkable success in capturing strategic points from the enemy forces. His most famous words, “Yeh dil manage more” (This heart yearns for more), spoken during the capture of Point 5140, became synonymous with his indomitable spirit. Tragically, he lost his life while fighting valiantly to recapture Point 4875, and he was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra, the highest wartime gallantry award in India.
  3. Naik Digendra Kumar: Naik Digendra Kumar’s exceptional bravery and ingenuity surprised even the then-army chief, General VP Malik. During a crucial Sainik Darbar in Drass, he presented an unexpected plan that played a significant role in the successful recapture of Tololing. His determination and resourcefulness in leading his men showcased the true spirit of a soldier.
  4. Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav: Hailing from a humble background, Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav displayed extraordinary courage during the capture of Tololing Top. Despite being severely injured in the battle, he continued to lead his men and neutralized several enemy positions. His unwavering determination and selflessness earned him the Param Vir Chakra, making him the youngest recipient of this prestigious award at that time.
  5. Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey: Lieutenant Manoj Pandey’s unwavering dedication to achieving the Param Vir Chakra, the highest gallantry award in India, drove him to perform acts of exceptional valor during the war. He played a crucial role in capturing Khalubar and eliminated several enemy soldiers in the process. Tragically, he lost his life while leading a charge against enemy positions during the battle of Jubar Top. His indomitable spirit and selfless sacrifice continue to inspire the nation.
  6. Rifleman Sanjay Kumar: Rifleman Sanjay Kumar’s exceptional courage and determination were evident during the capture of Point 4875 in the Mushkoh Valley. Despite facing heavy automatic fire from an enemy bunker, he fearlessly charged at them, single-handedly neutralizing the position. His actions provided a crucial advantage to his unit, leading to the successful capture of the strategic location. For his extraordinary bravery, Rifleman Sanjay Kumar was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, the highest military decoration in India.
  7. Major Saurabh Kalia: Major Saurabh Kalia’s unwavering commitment to duty and sacrifice is etched in the memory of the nation. During a routine patrol of the Bajrang Post in the Kaksar sector, he and five other soldiers were encircled by a platoon of Pakistani rangers and captured alive. They endured unimaginable torture at the hands of the Pakistan Army for 24 days before their mutilated bodies were handed over. Major Saurabh Kalia’s martyrdom highlighted the brutality of war and strengthened India’s resolve to honor and protect its brave soldiers.
  8. Major Vivek Gupta: As the commander of the leading Charlie Company during the attack on Tololing Top, Major Vivek Gupta displayed exceptional leadership and bravery. Despite facing heavy artillery and automatic fire from the enemy, he led his troops courageously, successfully closing in on the enemy positions. His strategic acumen and indomitable spirit were instrumental in the recapture of Tololing Top.
  9. Captain N Kenguruse: Captain N Kenguruse’s daring and audacious commando mission during Operation Vijay exemplified his bravery and determination. He led his Ghatak Platoon in attacking a well-sited enemy machine gun position on a cliff face during the assault on Area Black Rock in the Drass Sector. Captain Kenguruse’s remarkable leadership and fearlessness in the face of danger were critical to the success of the mission.
  10. Lieutenant Keishing Clifford Nongrum: Lieutenant Keishing Clifford Nongrum’s selfless and heroic actions saved the lives of his comrades during a fierce encounter with the enemy. Despite being pinned down by automatic fire for about two hours, he fearlessly attacked the enemy bunker, killing six enemy soldiers. Even after being wounded, he attempted to capture an enemy universal machine gun but was fatally shot. Lieutenant Keishing Clifford Nongrum’s extraordinary bravery earned him posthumous recognition and respect as a true hero.

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