Revisiting the Kargil War

India observes Kargil Vijay Diwas on July 26 every year to celebrate its victory over Pakistan in the Kargil War and to pay homage to the soldiers who died in the combat. The conflict, which took place between May and July 1999 in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kargil district, is also referred to as Operation Vijay in India.

Let’s learn more about the war in this week’s Five Ws & One H.

WHYdid the Kargil war break out?

Primarily a territorial conflict, the war broke out in May 1999, when Pakistani soldiers and militants infiltrated into the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC) to take control of the Kargil-Dras region in Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian Army launched Operation Vijay and began air strikes on May 26, 1999, against the holed-up militants and soldiers in the Dras, Kaksar and Mushkoh sectors in Jammu and Kashmir. Ground and air strikes continued till July 11. The Indian Army, ably supported by the Indian Air force, recaptured the positions on the Indian side of the LoC infiltrated by the Pakistani troops and militants. India pressed ahead with its military offensive, recapturing important points such as the Tiger Hill, the Batalic sector and the Jubar Heights in Batalik. Facing international pressure, the Pakistani forces withdrew from the remaining Indian positions along the LoC by July 11. On July 14, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee declared Operation Vijay a success. The Kargil conflict officially came to an end in July 26, when the Indian Army announced complete eviction of the Pakistani intruders.

HOWmany soldiers were killed in the battle?

According to official figures, India lost 527 of its soldiers and 1,363 were wounded. Pakistan confirmed that 453 of its soldiers were killed.

WHYis this war important?

• The Kargil War of 1999 holds significance because it was the first war between India and Pakistan after the one in 1971, which resulted in the formation of Bangladesh as a separate country.

• It was fought after both India and Pakistan had become nuclear states.

• The Indian Army fought and won the Kargil War despite challenges arising from high-altitude warfare such as freezing temperature and rugged mountain terrain.

WHATis the main conflict between India and Pakistan?

The main conflict between India and Pakistan is the claim over Kashmir, which has been at the heart of their mutual animosity ever since Partition.

Kashmir was hotly contested even before India and Pakistan gained independence from the British Raj in August 1947. Under the Partition plan provided by the Indian Independence Act, the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir was free to accede to India or Pakistan. And the maharaja Hari Singh of the state chose to remain with India.

The countries have fought three wars before the Kargil War and two of them were over Kashmir.

WHO’s who?

Atal Bihari Vajpayee

was the prime minister of India when the Kargil War was fought.

Nawaz Sharifwas the prime minister of Pakistan during the Kargil conflict.

Pervez Musharraf: The conflict was believed to have been orchestrated by the then Pakistan army chief General Pervez Musharraf without the knowledge of the prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

WHEREwas the Kargil War Memorial built?

The Kargil War Memorial, built by the Indian Army, is located in Dras, in the foothills of the Tololing Hill. The memorial commemorates the martyrs of the Kargil War. A museum attached to it houses pictures of Indian soldiers and archives of important war documents.

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