Sunday, July 26, 2009

Vijay Diwas: salute the kargil war heroes

The Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, on 26 July 2009 led the nation in paying homage to the martyrs of the Kargil war on its 10th anniversary- Vijay Diwas.

A decade back, on July 26, 1999, Indian soldiers defeated the Pakistani infiltrators after fighting for over 40 days at the heights of Kargil and Drass in Jammu and Kashmir and in the process sacrificing their lives. They went as men and returned as heroes. At the height of 1000 feet, where it is even difficult to breathe, Indian soldiers crawled on the mountains, faced the enemy bullets and achieved the martyrdom but not before driving out the enemy.

“They sacrificed their lives in defense of Indian unity and integrity. The best tribute we can pay to the gallant officers and jawans is to dedicate ourselves to the gigantic task of nation building and work steadfastly to protect the unity and integrity of our nation," wrote in Prime Minister in the visitor’s book at Amar Jawan Jyoti, New Delhi

This was the first time in the last five years of UPA rule that the political leadership has also participated in the Kargil war day celebrations. Singh was accompanied by Defense Minister A K Antony, Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta, Army Vice Chief Lieutenant General Noble Thamburaj and Air Force Vice Chief Air Marshal P K Barbora.

While wreaths were laid at the War Memorial amid a majestic fly past by Mig 21 Bison aircraft and showering of petals by Chetak helicopters, the families of many of the slain soldiers got an account of the bravery of their loved ones from the personnel of the forces, colleagues and friends.

Describing the Pakistani military maneuvers over Kargil region as a tactical action, Lt Gen (Retd) H M Khanna, the former Northern Army Commander during the Kargil conflict said that the Pakistani decision to occupy the uninhibited ridges was limited to gain a specific end rather than a strategic move. They paid a price militarily, politically and diplomatically for the risky endeavor.

The General opined that the Army did have alternate action plan to occupy vulnerable areas under Pakistani control, but for that the Line of Control (LoC) had to be crossed. However, the political decision was strictly not to cross the LoC, which may have widened the conflict area with serious ramifications.

Many of the books written during and immediately after the limited three-month hostilities chronicles the grit and determination of the soldiers who fought the war on the icy heights braving the toughest weather conditions. The outbreak of hostilities also showed that the Pakistan political establishment was not in line with the thinking and planning of the army brass.

The accurate bombardment by Indian Army's Bofors guns and Air Force jets that helped in dislodging enemy intruders from Kargil, was largely possible due to the continuous feed-back of their hits generated through aerial photography done by the Jaguar unit of IAF led by Wing Commander Ashwani Bhakoo (now retired Group Captain) amidst enemy fire. The Jaguar aircrafts flying at around 200 feet above ground level, were fitted with sensitive high resolution cameras that could be put on video mode while flying at a speed of 850 km/h.

Gallantry in the blood:

"Why do you want to join the army?" asked the officer during the interview.
"I have come here for the Param Vir Chakra (PVC)," answered the boy.
Surprised with boy's confident answer, the officer shot another question: "Do you know when PVC is given?"
Prompt came the reply: "It is given when you lay down your life while fighting for the country."

Few years later, the boy proved his statement true. While narrating this incident, Gopichand Pandey could not hide the shine in his teary eyes. After all, he is the proud father of Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey, who was posthumously given the Param Vir Chakra, the highest gallantry award of the country, for his exemplary valour in the Kargil war of 1999. Ten years later, the entire nation still remembers this son of the soil and salutes his chivalry.

Pune's Tribute:

Around 400 people including students, civilians and retired army officers commemorated the Kargil Vijay Diwas at the National War Memorial in Morwada Junction braving the rain on Monday evening.

The seniormost defence officers in Pune — Air Chief Marshal H Mulgaonkar (retd) and Admiral Jayant Nadkarni (retd)— placed wreaths at the memorial.

Lt General H M Khanna (retd), who commanded the Northern Operations during the Kargil War, also laid a wreath at the memorial, while Brigadier Rajbir Singh, commander of the Pune Sub area laid the wreath on behalf of the Army Commander, General Officer Commanding in Chief (GOC-in-C), Southern Command. Industrialist Arun Firodia, actor Mohan Agashe and civic activist Satish Mehendale represented the civilians.

“We are touched by this tribute paid by the citizens of Pune who have gathered here despite the rainy weather. If the weather had been better, many more would have come,” said Air Marshal A K Trikha (retd).

Video on Kargil war

Indian Air Force in action at Kargil war

A tribute to kargil war heroes

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