Kargil Vijay Diwas: Paying Homage To Fallen Soldiers

5 mins read
Kargil Vijay

Shabir Ahmad                      Kargil Vijay


From skies, three Army choppers showered petals. On ground, three Service Chiefs paid tributes to martyrs of Operation Vijay by laying wreaths. The venue: Iconic Kargil War Memorial in Dras located at the foothills of the Tolling feature.

Event: Commemoration of 20th anniversary of Kargil Vijay Diwas – which marks the gallant victory of the Indian armed forces who fought the Pakistani intruders between May-July 1999 in Dras, Kargil & Batalik sectors of Western Ladakh.

The victory celebrations of Kargil war spread over three days – July 24 to July 26 – were a package of many events centered on the Drass War Memorial. People from cross sections of Indian society, war veterans, families of martyrs’, serving troops, media persons and common people participated in the events to pay homage to the fallen soldiers of Kargil war.

Infact the 20th anniversary of Operation Vijay was celebrated across the India with the theme of ‘Remember, Rejoice & Renew’. “We ‘Remember’ our martyrs, by revisiting the sacrifices and instilling pride and respect among us, we ‘Rejoice’ by celebrating the victory in Kargil and we ‘Renew’ our resolve to safeguard the honour of the Tricolour,” said an Army officer.

On the final day, all the three Service Chiefs took part in the wreath laying ceremony at the iconic Kargil War Memorial in Dras. President Ram Nath Kovind was supposed to pay homage to the martyrs in Drass. However, he couldn’t make to the venue because of the bad weather. The president later paid homage by laying wreath at the martyrs’ memorial in Srinagar’s BB cantonment.

Pic: The Legitimate

At Dras, chairman of the chiefs of staff committee & Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, paid tributes to the martyrs at the war memorial by laying a wreath, followed by observation of two minutes silence by all present. Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Karambir Singh, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command and Lieutenant General YK Joshi, General Officer Commanding, ‘Fire & Fury’ Corps paid their respects to the martyrs who made the supreme sacrifice on these icy heights 20 years ago. Gen VP Malik ( Retd), Chief of  Army Staff during the Kargil War and several senior military & civilian dignitaries, veterans and veer naris were also present on the occasion.

Earlier, senior dignitaries laid the wreath followed by Flagging In of the “Victory Flame” by the Chief of Army Staff and merging of the same with the Eternal Flame at the Kargil War Memorial.

On the last of the three-day commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Kargil war victory (July 26), the victory flame passed hands from one veteran to another and finally to Army Chief General Bipin Rawat as it reached its final destination at the Drass War Memorial.

The flame — which was lit by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at the National War Memorial in New Delhi on July 14 — was received at Drass by Major DP Singh (retired) a Kargil war veteran and India’s first amputee marathon runner.

The war veteran was 25 when he was hit by mortar fire in Akhnoor sector of Jammu and Kashmir. Following the injury, his right leg was amputated.

“I was among many soldiers who are not with us. To carry their memories in my hands, what more could I have asked for,” the retired officer said.

Major Singh, who has ran in 21 marathons using a prosthetic limb, after receiving the flame at Drass handed it over to another Kargil war hero, Subedar Major Yogendra Singh Yadav. He was awarded the highest military decoration Param Vir Chakra for his role in the fight for Tiger Hill.

Pic: The Legitimate

The victory flame after completing a 1000-km journey was finally handed over to the Army chief who merged it in the eternal flame at the Drass War Memorial.

After the Wreath Laying Ceremony, the Service Chiefs visited the Hut of Remembrance, located in the War Memorial premises, where they paid tributes to the martyrs and were briefed on the valour of the brave soldiers, who made the supreme sacrifice for the nation in the epic battles fought in the summer of 1999. The chiefs also interacted with the invitees especially Veer Naris and Veterans as well as troops deployed in the sector.

In the itinerary of the events was also the briefing on the battle points and how the peaks captured by Pakistani troops were recaptured. To recollect the fierce battles fought during Operation VIJAY and to relive some of the important moments of the war, a briefing on the Battle at Point 4875, Tiger Hill, Tololing and Khalubar was conducted at the Lamochan View Point in Dras on July 25. The event included narrations of anecdotes and experiences of retired military leaders, officers, awardees, Veer Naris and NoKs of martyrs. Amongst the speakers were General Ved Prakash Malik, (Retd), Chief of Army Staff when Kargil war happened in 1999 and Aparajita Acharya, daughter of martyred Major Padmapani Acharya.

The gathering witnessed a narration of soul stirring sagas of courage and sacrifices of the soldiers. General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Army Staff interacted with the invitees of the event.

Activities of the day culminated with a solemn homage ceremony at the Kargil War Memorial in the evening. The kaleidoscope of events included a performance by the Army Fusion and Brass Bands. The enthralling display of military martial music captivated the audience with patriotic fervour and vivacity. A performance of patriotic songs followed the band display. The function was attended by Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, Chief of Air Staff, in addition to General Bipin Rawat. The events culminated with a Memorial Service followed by lighting of lamps at the Kargil War Memorial to honour the martyrs of the war, in the backdrop of the mighty Tololing feature.

Each year the Kargil Vijay Diwas is celebrated on the 26th of July to mark the culmination of the war and to celebrate the glorious victory of our soldiers in 1999.


Pic: Agencies

In the midst of heightened tensions after both of the rival countries had successfully created and tested nuclear weapons, came the Lahore agreement of 1999, in which both the countries mutually agreed to solve the Kashmir issue in a peaceful manner.

However, beginning from the winter of 1998, Pakistani troops began infiltrating towards the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC) under Operation Badr, hoping to cut off Indian troops in Siachen and force them to retreat. The Pakistani troops had managed to capture a region between 130 to 200 square kilometres, before India responded with Operation Vijay.

The glorious Operation Vijay saw the mobilisation of about 2,00,000 Indian troops and brought a swift and final end to the conflict by recapturing all the previously lost posts and forcing the Pakistani troops to make a run for it. The Kargil was a unique instance of two nuclear-capable powers facing each other off in a conventional warfare.

In the end the then Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Shariff managed to get the US to intervene diplomatically so as to ensure an absolute end of the conflict.

General Speaks

Army chief Bipin Rawat warned Pakistan against any such misadventure in future, saying the neighbouring would get a “bloodier nose” this time.

“Pakistan has been put on the back foot and we will continue to put it on the back foot… My only warning to Pakistan is: Do not ever attempt such a misadventure any time in the future. Anytime, anywhere, do not think of it,” he said.

General Rawat had said, “No matter what heights they capture the Indian army will always get back to them and recapture those heights. This was evident during the Kargil war in 1999.”

Latest from Archives