WE WON OUR KARGIL A DECADE AGO
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
The Indian Army officers and Jawans, along with their Indian Air Force comrades-in-arms, won a war in Kargil against Pakistan a decade ago. It was 26 July 1999 when the last of the Pakistan Army intruders beat a retreat leaving their fallen compatriots in uniform on the Indian soil unhonoured,unwept, unsung and unburied. Indians rejoiced their victory from Kashmir to Kanya Kumari and Kamrup to Kutch and named it Kargil Vijay Divas. A decade has gone by, much water has flown down the Ganges but nefarious designs of the treacherous neighbour go on unabated. Never mind what the defeated do, as always we are magnanimous in our victory.
The Indian Army pays homage to our martyrs and celebrates the glorious victory of a hard-fought war. Those who fell for the cause of the country shall always be honoured in the Hall of Fame because they gave their today for our tomorrow. It is for patriotic martyrs that the poet sung these lines:
How else can a man die better
Than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his fathers
And the temples of his gods.
PARAM VIR CHAKRA VIJETA
Let us, at the outset, recall the gallantry of those officers and jawans who displayed gallantry of the highest order in the face of the enemy and beyond the call of duty. Of the fighting four who were honoured by the Nation with Param Vir Chakra, our highest gallantry award, the two officers had made the supreme sacrifice and the two Jawans are still on the rolls of their regiments. It would be appropriate to chronicle their brave deeds and how they beat the Pakistani soldiers hollow and made them realise in the heart of their hearts that their surreptitious intrusion into India that was masterminded by none other than General Pervez Musharraf, the then Pakistan Army Chief , was against the tenets of their own religion. What an unsoldierly behaviour the Pakistani planners displayed when they left their dead comrades-in-arms to be buried by Indian soldiers on the Indian soil. How humane our Army is had become the talk of the town all over. We now return to our heroes of Kargil war, recalling just the four highest gallantry medal winners for now.
Capt Vikram Batra, PVC
“Personally leading an assault, Captain Vikram Batra engaged the enemy in a fierce hand to hand fight and killed five enemy soldiers at point blank range.During the assault he rallied his men, pressed home the attack and finally succeeded what seemed to be a militarily impossible task.
For his unparalleled feats of conspicuous personal gallantry, exemplaryleadership and selfless devotion to duty, Captain Vikram Batra was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra.”
Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey,PVC
This young officer led his platoon of Gorkha soldiers on the high hills of Khalubar and assaulted sangar after sangar dislodging the enemy soldiers from the high ground. Unmindful of his injuries sustained from the enemy fire, lt Manoj led his men from the front. At the fourth enemy sangar, he was grievously injured by the enemy machine gun fire but still threw a hand grenade killing many Pakistani soldiers. Thus his platoon could gain a foothold at Khalubar enabling his fellow soldiers advance further and recapture the Indian territory. Lt Pandey made the supreme sacrifice in the cause of the country and was posthumously awarded Param Vir Chakra.
Rifleman Sanjoy Kumar, PVC
He was the leading scout of a column detailed to recapture our territory from Pakistan Army. When the Indian soldiers came under enemy fire, Sanjoy , unmindful of his personal safety, charged at the well fortified enemy position in the Mushkoh valley.”In the ensuing hand to hand combat, he killed three Pakistani soldiers and was himself grievously injured. Unmindful of his wounds, he charged at another enemy sangar and the enemy fled leaving behind a machine gun.His bravery motivated his fellow soldiers who captured the entire area.
For his most conspicuous gallantry against heavy odds leading to the capture of an important objective, Rifleman Sanjoy Kumar was awarded Param Vir Chakra.
Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav, PVC
He was a part of the leading element of the Ghatak platoon tasked to capture the Tiger Hill Top.The approach to the 16,500ft top was rocky and snowy. Yogendra volunteered to climb up, fix a rope there to enable others to climb up. The enemy was surprised but reacted violently opening fire from every weapon they had. Three Grenadiers, including the team leader, were killed and advance stalled. Grenadier Yadav , unmindful of his personal safety, crawled to the enemy sangar, lobbed grenades while firing from his rifle and killed four Pakistani soldiers silencing their automatic fire.Notwithstanding injuries received in his arm and leg, grenadier yadav attacked another enemy sangar with success. Inspired by Yadav, the Ghatak platoon fought fiercely dislodging the enemy from the most important Tiger Hill Top.
For most conspicuous courage well beyond the call of duty, Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav was awarded Param Vir Chakra.
SONS OF THE BRAVE
There were many more officers and men of the Indian Army who fought bravely to recover the lost Indian territory. Some sons of the brave did not return home. They made the supreme sacrifice. Those who returned told the saga of valour and their narration was heard with rapt attention by the new generation. How many went to war, how many were killed in action and how many survived is a matter of military history. What is of primary importance is that the entire Indian nation was ONE in India’s fight against a treacherous enemy. It is of importance that the Indian Army, supported by our Air Force, fought and won against Pakistan – our second victory against the enemy, including the one in the 1971 war. Since our independence in 1947, Pakistan has thrust four wars on us. The Indian Army was victorious in all four, notwithstanding the evil designs, imported arms and tacit, sometimes open, support of the United States that scheming Pakistan had had.
Where did Pakistan go wrong in Kargil? In their overconfidence and relying on their forward planning, they had the initial advantage of the element of Surprise in War and occupied a vast chunk of Indian territory – 160 km long and ten km in width or depth –but they did not take into account bravery of young officers of the Indian Army and Air Force as well as the unity of people of India. The whole of India stood by our Jawans and provided them both moral and material support. General Musharraf had miscalculated the resolve of the Vajpayee government in not only defending the motherland but also launching a counter offensive to free entire Kargil of Pakistani elements. In 1965 general Ayub of Pakistan had made a similar miscalculation in assessing the firm resolve and determination of Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri of India. Pakistan was stunned when Shastri Ji ordered the Indian Army to cross the international border and attack Pakistan’s Punjab. Likewise General Yahya Khan failed to read the mind of Smt Indira Gandhi who succeeded in dismembering Pakistan and giving birth to Bangla Desh. The Kargil misadventure of our hostile neighbour was a link in the chain of anti-India design aimed at destabilising our country. The moral of the story for India is: Never trust Pakistan and their leadership, both civil and military.
CELEBRATE VICTORY OVER PAKISTAN
Rejoicings and celebrations after a well deserved victory in war is a must. It is a morale raising factor for the combatants, both serving and retired. The victory parades all over cantonments and non-cantonment towns make the new generation aware of the valour and wisdom of our armed forces. When the nation is threatened by an enemy, it can trust its armed forces who will deliver the goods. The young boys and girls make a resolution to follow the high ideals of the forefathers and the generation gone by and prepare themselves mentally to make the supreme sacrifice, if need be.
Perhaps there is a school of thought that believes that past should be buried and a base be made for economic cooperation. The votaries of this school for scandal are bureaucrats who had once advised the Government of India not to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of our victory on Pakistan in 1971. It is good that the political leadership turned a deaf ear to the advice of the chicken-hearted gentlemen. I am afraid they are misreading the mind of the wily enemy who is preparing to wage a thousand year war against India. Let us not lower our guard and get caught napping. Celebration of victory denotes a nation pulsating with life, inaction in victory may pave the path to defeat. Who wants to face defeat? Not the patriots in India.
It would be a good idea to win the minds and hearts of young Indians and motivate them to join the Armed Forces. DVDs, films, CDs and what have you, of the Kargil War may be screened for the young boys and girls so that they are motivated to emulate those who defended our motherland with all their might a decade ago. Let us sign off with the patriotic fervour and raise the slogan:
VANDE MATARAM ; VANDE MAATRAM.
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