Kargil Vijay Diwas : India celebrates 21 years of victory

Kargil Vijay Diwas, named after the successful Operation Vijay, is celebrated in India on 26 July. On this date in 1999 India successfully took command of the high outposts which had been lost to Pakistan. The Kargil war was fought for more than 60 days, ended on 26 July and resulted in loss of life on both the sides. The war ended with India regaining control of all the previously held territory, hence re-establishing the state existing before the war. Kargil Vijay Diwas is celebrated on 26 July every year in honour of the Kargil War’s Heroes. 

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. Indian armed forces attacked the rest of the outposts as Pakistani troops withdrew and captured the last of them by July 26.

The official death toll on the Indian side was 527 and that on the Pakistani side was between 357 and 453.