Date: 28 Jul 2009
It is unfortunate that the Government has decided that the tenth anniversary of the Kargil War did not need to be celebrated. Is it reluctance to remember a war fought when a different political party was in power or is it just plain indifference to courage?
Kargil was a war that was beamed into every Indian home and the citizens of this country watched with baited breath as Indian officers and soldiers swept them off their feet by their heroic acts and personal courage. The odds were in favour of the enemy who held the icy heights and dominated the barren landscape with withering fire from their automatic weapons which made it difficult for anything to move. This however was just the scenario for Indian soldiers to carry out their death defying missions. Those who watched agonised for their safe return. Some returned and some did not and even the enemy grew to respect these young lions and to acknowledge their courage and daring. The price they paid was heavy but they laid their lives on the line and they did it willingly and without regret.
The defending Pakistani soldiers were very confident that they would beat back any attack by our soldiers, so great was the advantage of the tactical positions that they held. They however did not reckon with one factor in the Indian armoury – Courage! Courage of the ill equipped Indian soldier whose bravery in the extreme adverse circumstances that underlined the Kargil war must never be forgotten.
Courage in combat coloured the snow covered Kargil slopes crimson, as soldiers shed their precious blood battling against superhuman odds. Attacks were launched at heights above 15,000 feet in sub-zero temperatures where every breath at those rarefied heights is painful and every step a laboured effort. Added to this was the Government’s decision not to cross the Line of Control, thereby reducing the Army’s tactical options.
Conditions were nightmarish for battalion commanders when uncompromising orders from the top demanded results literally overnight. Yet these results were achieved but at a terrible cost. 25 officers and 436 jawans made the supreme sacrifice and 54 officers and 629 jawans were wounded, many of them disabled for life.
None the less no quarter was asked for and no quarter given. Infantry men attacked with a ferocity that astonished the Pakistani defenders; Indian gunners fired till their barrels were red hot; our air force pilots took great risks to blast the enemy from above; the supporting arms and services extended themselves beyond their limits and the media responded magnificently, taking front line battles into every Indian home thereby activating tremendous public support that boosted the morale of the troops and encouraged them to even greater feats of daring.
Pakistani troops and the military hierarchy who were initially euphoric about their early success were taken aback by the determination of the Indian political and military leadership and the courage and daring of her young officers and the soldiers they led. Slowly and steadily the enemy strongholds were systematically destroyed and the Pakistani defenders vanquished. Pakistan losses were estimated at approximately 45 officers and 700 soldiers killed and they had ultimately nothing to show for their efforts.
In the meanwhile, the Indian armed forces adopted strategic positions to prevent any further Pakistani misadventures. American spy satellites reported that Indian Army formations were moving to their battle positions and that the Indian Navy had, deployed its Western fleet. These moves not only convinced the Pakistani leadership that India meant business but so alarmed the Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif, that he scuttled off to Washington to meet the American president to request him to broker a cease-fire and to agree to pull back his forces. But there was very little to pull back because most of the battles had already been won and the areas recaptured. In fact, he must have received the news that Tiger Hill was recaptured by us, even as he was preparing to meet the American president on 4 July, 1999. The war in fact had already been won, and the so called ‘withdrawal’ of his forces was only a face saving device to spare Pakistan any further humiliation.
It was in these daunting circumstances that four of the heroes of the Kargil war won their Param Vir Chakras. Two were officers and two were jawans but only two lived to tell the tale.
Kargil was a war where young officers of the Army were in their element. In no previous war had young officers dominated the scene as did these young gladiators at Kargil. Amongst them were some who deserved better and some whose deeds were not recorded at all and therefore not recognised.
However, from amongst them all, the one who captured the imagination of the public most, was Captain Vikram Batra. His bold courage and the risks that he took in mission after mission filled the public with wonder and awe. He seemed to be invincible but every time he sallied forth to meet new challenges and dangers, people prayed for his safe return. His code name ‘Sher-Shah’ soon became his nick name and even the enemy soldiers came to know of it and addressed him as such when they shouted challenges at each other above the noise and tumult of battle. His slogan ‘Dil Mange More’ took on new patriotic meanings ranging from what the country demanded of its soldiers, to the support the soldiers expected from the people and what young officers like Vikram Batra demanded from life itself – bigger risks, tougher challenges. It came to mean that no sacrifice was too great for a soldier to make for his country. It was in fact a statement that however great the challenge, it would be met and more!
Kargil was a war that should never have happened. It proved that ‘the only lesson we learn from history is that we never learn from history’. The war in Kargil is a combination of most of our mistakes of the past. Will there be more Kargils? Undoubtedly yes, unless the political and military hierarchy accept that there were major shortcomings in our systems that allowed Pakistan to attempt her foolish venture and that it needed to be ensured that these will never again be repeated.
26/11 was a repetition of Kargil in a different scenario and executed by a different breed of Pakistanis but directed and controlled by the same political and military masters. Our mistake once again, was intelligence failure. The failure of intelligence, both civil and military, endemic since independence, will continue to be our Achilles heel until decision makers accept this deficiency and take steps to set this right.
Whatever the faults of the political hierarchy of that time and the political hangover of today, the courage of the Indian soldier must not be forgotten. The sad truth is that the soldier is remembered only in time of war. Kargil has already faded from public memory and it appears that some politicians would like the story of that war to be permanently dead and buried.
The fate of a nation during war hinges on how well her soldiers fight. Recognition of the sacrifices that soldiers make, so that we may live is the least that we can do to tell them that their sacrifices have not been in vain and that the nation is grateful and remembers. Good leaders understand that this is the essence of morale and that morale is a battle winning factor. Failure to understand this basic need of the soldier may have consequences that will only be known as and when we go to war again and then it may be too late.
EXCELLENT DESCRIPTION OF KARGIL WAR AND THE ACCOUNT OF THE BRAVE INDIAN SOLDIERS.
KARGIL WAR, 1999, WAS STARTED BY THE MUSLIMS (PAKISTANIS). INDIA RESPONDED.
DEMAND FOR PAKISTAN WAS STARTED BY THE MUSLIMS. INDIA RESPONDED BY ACCEPTING DEFEAT. SHE IMMEDIATELY SIGNED THE UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER OF LAHORE, KARACHI, QUETTA, PESHAWAR, DHAKA AND EVEN NORTH KASHMIR. INDIA’S MASTERS, RULERS AND OWNERS WERE EITHER “BASTARDS” OR “FOGEIGNERS, DOGS & BITCHES”. NO PATRIOT COULD SIGN ON THAT SURRENDER WHILE STILL LIVING..
DURING THE BATTLE FOR KARGIL HEIGHTS THE POLITICIANS, INCLUDING THE USELESS SUPREME COMMANDER, NEVER DARED TO LET THE SOLDIERS CROSS THE BOGUS CEASE FIRE LINE.
THE NINCOMPOOP GOVERNMENT OF PARTITIONED INDIA TOOK OVER THE TACTICS FROM THE MILITARY COMMANDERS IN THE FIELD. THEY ORDERED THE ARMY TO CARRY OUT FRONTAL ATTACKS, ONE AFTER THE OTHER. IT MUST HAVE BAFFLE EVEN THE FRESH RECRUITS ABOUT THIS WISH OF THE GOVERNMENT OF "HARAAMI" (NEHRU) DYNASTY & CONGRESS PARTY, BENT UPON ENSURING MAXIMUM POSSIBLE NUMBER OF CASUALTIES OF INDIAN SOLDIERS AND OFFICERS.
IN THAT WAR THE BRAVEST WERE TREATED LIKE CANNON FODDER, LIKE THE SOLDIERS IN WORLD WAR 1.
THERE HAS BEEN NO POST MORTEM, NEITHER ON THE SURRENDER OF LAHORE, OR THE SURRENDER OF NORTH KASHMIR NOR EVEN ON THE EXCESSIVE NUMBER OF CASUALTIES TAKEN AT KARGIL.
NO PARATROOP FORCE WAS DROPPED BEHIND THE ENEMY LINES TO CUT OFF SUPPLIES TO THE FRONT AND NO LAND FORCE ADVANCED FROM ANY SIDE TO SURROUND THE PAKISTANI TROOPS SITTING ON SOARING HEIGHTS. THEY WOULD HAVE DIED OF SHOCK SEEING THE INDIAN TROOPS BEHIND THEM. BUT GOVERNMENT OF INDIA WAS IN LEAGUE WITH THE ENEMY AS JUST AS THEY WERE IN 1947.
THE SLOW MOVING INDIANS WILL TAKE AT LEAST 700 YEARS TO UNDERSTAND THE MINDSET OF THEIR RULERS.
SINCE KARGIL “LADY INDIA” HAS HAD BER BOTTOM BURNT IN PARLIAMENT, MUMBAI STOCK EXCHANGE, NEW DELHI, AND EVEN GOT HER BOTTOM RAMMED IN TAJ HOTEL, MUMBAI.
THE WORST WAS NOT THE UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER OF FIVE PROVINCES IN 1947. THE WORST IS YET TO COME- GIVEN THAT “BAPU” GANDHI IS STUCK TO THE BACK OF "BROKEN BHAARAT" LIKE A LIMPET.