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India Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Kargil Victory Over Pakistan

New Delhi (Sputnik): Cowherds in the Himalayan heights of Kargil in the troubled northern state of Jammu and Kashmir noticed some suspicious movements in the region during the summer months of 1999. Their timely information alerted Indian forces into action, resulting in a limited war between India and Pakistan.

Twenty years later, a more confident and equipped Indian Armed Forces claim, the adversary would never attempt such a misadventure again.

“I am quite sure, the adversary would never attempt this again. In fact this was a big misadventure undertaken by the Pakistan Army in 1999…..Today, we have got better surveillance devices", Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat said on Thursday (25th July) while speaking to mediapersons on the sidelines of an event at the hilltop in the Drass Sector of the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir.

Lt General B.S. Jaswal, who was the General Officer Commanding the Indian Army’s Northern Region said a lot needs to be done on the ground based on the recommendations of a panel that reviewed the sequence of events. Incidentally, the panel was headed by K. Subrahmanyam, the late father of India’s External Affairs Minister Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

“Firstly, we have taken off from where we were during the Kargil War. There was no battlefield transparency and the troop to ground density was not that much. But the Kargil Review Committee, set up by the federal government had given a number of recommendations. I think hardly any recommendation has been implemented on the ground. But today, we have different options to taken on our enemy to retaliate against any misadventure of this kind", Lt General Jaswal told Sputnik.

A defence journalist R. Prasannan, who covered the conflict, also agreed with Lt. General Jaswal. He said India still needs to implement several recommendations of the Kargil Review Committee.

“We were caught by surprise in Kargil. And looking at how the Kargil review committee's recommendations remain unimplemented, it is very likely that we may again be caught by surprise. Our strength is in being able to quickly react, improvise tactics, and fight back. That is what happened in Kargil too. We didn't have laser-guided bombs then; we quickly improvised laser bomb pods which we fitted on vintage aircraft. We didn’t have medium NB range to field guns to hit the enemy posts on the hilltops. We used howitzers as direct-firing weapons", Prasannan told Sputnik.

President of India Ram Nath Kovind on Friday will dedicate the Kargil War Memorial in Drass and pay homage to the men who perished in the conflict. The day is celebrated in India as Vijay Divas or Victory Day.

​Recalling his visit to Kargil in 1999 as a functionary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his “interactions with soldiers are unforgettable”.

​The conflict, which lasted for over two months, ended on 26 July 1999. The official death toll on the Indian side was 527, while Pakistan lost around 400 men.

Islamabad had initially denied any role for its Army and described the intruders as “Kashmiri freedom fighters”. Pakistan however, later decorated its soldiers involved in the conflict with medals, including the highest award fop bravery, Nishan-e-Haider, to Captain Karnal Sher Khan, who was killed by the Indian Army.

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