The Army plans to hold huge events under the theme Remember-Rejoice-Renew to mark the sacrifice of the 527 soldiers killed in the war.
New Delhi: This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Kargil war and the Indian Army has decided to hold massive celebrations as tribute to the sacrifice of the 527 soldiers who lost their lives in the war.
The war officially ended on 26 July, 1999, when the Army recaptured all Indian posts in Kargil that had been occupied by Pakistani soldiers and mujahideen but as a curtain raiser, the defence establishment has released its ‘New Year Calendar’ themed ‘Celebrating 20 years of Kargil’, which is a collector’s item. You can download the calendar here.
The theme for the celebrations is ‘Remember-Rejoice-Renew’. The idea is to remember the martyrs, rejoice in the victory and renew the pledge for the future.
But even as the country readies to celebrate another Kargil Vijay Diwas, little has changed for the Indian soldier in terms of equipment and weapons.
Little change in 20 years
Though there is a glimmer of hope as the government and the Army headquarters have finally pushed for new equipment and weapons, little has changed for the Indian soldier in 20 years.
The soldiers continue to fight with the same INSAS rifles that they used way back in 1999. They are now finally on the brink of change as the Army is in the process of procuring new assault rifles. Thought this has been attempted in the past, the latest bid is serious and has made significant progress.
The other big change that the soldiers are looking forward to is in the artillery department. Kargil was won on the back of the Bofors gun, which helped the Army pound the positions held by the Pakistani soldiers. It continues to rely on these guns.
But breaking the Bofors jinx, however, the Army has finally managed to procure the M777 light-weight howitzers from the US and the K9 Vajra under the Make in India initiative. The induction of the first regiment of both these guns would be done this year.
Kargil Review Committee report still not implemented
The biggest matter of concern, however, is that the Kargil Review Committee report is still to be implemented completely in letter and spirit.
The government is yet to come out with the post of the Chief of Defence Staff though the civilian leadership have partially accepted the recommendations for services integration by creation of the Andaman and Nicobar Command and the Integrated Defence Staff.
Many more recommendations of the review committee is still to be implemented including having a written national security doctrine.
But as they say, soldiers must fight on and this is exactly what the Indian Army plans to do as it gets set to celebrate the 20 years of the Kargil Vijay Diwas in a big way.
Interestingly, Kargil war hero Lt Gen Y.K. Joshi, whose battalion of 13 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles made four successful attempts on hilltops captured by Pakistani army during the Kargil battle, is the chief of the 14 Corps that is entrusted with the defence of the Ladakh area under which Kargil comes.
Lt Gen Joshi was the commanding officer of his battalion in 1999 and his unit won several gallantry medals including two Param Vir Chakras, seven Vir Chakras and 14 Sena medals.
He was the commanding officer of the late Captain Vikram Batra, who had managed to capture the admiration of the entire country with his “dil mange more” speech during the battle.