By Arun Joshi
At a time when the geostrategic goals are undergoing paradigm shift in South Asia , the Indian Army is sending vital tidings of its supremacy in the mountain warfare. The occasion it has chosen is the 22nd anniversary of the victory in Kargil war fought against all odds against its soldiers with all the minuses on its side and the adversary having all the advantages that came with the high Himalayan peaks occupied by it.
The dimensions of Kargil war victory celebrations have changed over the years. Its anniversaries were marked by tributes to the martyrdom of soldiers who laid down their lives to get back each and every inch of the land from the enemy .. The celebrations this year took off with Northern Command Army chief Lt. Gen. Y K Joshi taking a sortie of Sukhoi 30-MKI1 over the mountains where one of the bravest soldiers Paramvir Chakra awardee Vikram Batra laid down his life on July 7, which in itself was a message to the neighbours – Pakistan and China that Indian army has graduated much more in warfare in the mountains than what it was 22 years ago during the summer of 1999 when Kargil war was fought and won. Around this time last year, China had made things difficult for India by its offensive standoff , particularly after June 15/16 Galwan valley clashes in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed,, and the celebrations were nowhere close to the scale and scope with which these have begun now .
Kargil war was a rare saga of bravery where the Indian soldiers shed their blood on the rocks of the trans- Himalayas to accomplish what many had thought was near-impossible given the highly advantageous position that Pakistan had gained surreptitiously. It had broken an unwritten agreement of maintaining sanctity of the Line of Control that divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan . At the time of the war Kargil , now one of the two districts of Ladakh Union Territory, , was part of the erstwhile state of J&K, which now stands divided into two union territories of J&K, and Ladakh..
The celebrations are unprecedented . Bike rallies are moving toward Drass, the main battlefield of Kargil war , special songs and dances are on display ahead of July 26 , Kargil Vijay Divas . President Ram Nath Kovind is expected to pay tributes to the martyrs at the War Memorial in Drass overlooked by the high features of Tiger Hill, Tololing , which were under the occupation of Pakistanis .
Kargil war was thrust on India by Pakistan with multiple objectives- to cut Srinagar-Leh highway that passes through Drass and Kargil and leads to other roads to Siachen glacier , reckoned as the highest battle ground in the world at the height ranging between 18,000 to 21,000 feet high above the sea level.
It had all the plans to cut off India and all its strategic assets in the region and hand over a fait accompli . Pakistan , which had been taunted for long by Kashmiris for not doing anything for them except for getting Kashmiri youth killed at LoC or in encounters with the security forces . An anti-Pakistan feelings tempered the Valley mood.
.Pakistan had sought to convey that it was risking a war with India at the time when India had made peace overtures – Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had undertaken a bus journey to Lahore , Pakistan , for fostering peace. The bus journey had come after relations between the two countries had deteriorated following May 1998 tit-for-tat atomic explosions. Pakistan wanted to prove a point that the Indian superiority in conventional war had been neutralized with its successful nuclear explosions.
India proved Pakistan wrong . But it took a lot of blood of soldiers – more than 500 made supreme sacrifice and almost double the number were wounded , and some of them never recovered fully.
The 2021 Kargil war victory celebrations are special ; the message is to the nation that the Indian army is capable of meeting all the military challenges . If it could tame and evict the well-entrenched enemy from the forbidding mountainous heights it can meet any challenge at any place and spring what may appear to be a miracle to others .
This had become a strategic necessity for India because of highly volatile situation emerging in Afghanistan, where Pakistan’s proxy Taliban is capturing one district after another with the active support of Pakistan’s armed forces and China’s blessings .
India needs a theatre to say it loudly and clearly that the triangle of the troubles emerging from Pakistan, Taliban in Afghanistan and China in the strategic region of South Asia that it has capacity and will to perform the military miracles , no matter how many odds are stacked against it . India is capable of holding its position as strong as ever , leaving behind certain setbacks – India had suffered a major setback in the initial days of Kargil war in 1999 and still managed to undo all what the enemy had planned .
About the Author:
Arun Joshi is a senior journalist based in J&K. He has worked with Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express and The Tribune. He has authored “ Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War” and three other books.
This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with