The 20th anniversary of Kargil Vijay Diwas was on Friday observed across the nation to commemorate the success of ''Operation Vijay'' which was launched by the Indian Army to recapture the strategic Indian territories held by the Pakistani intruders in the Kargil-Drass sector in 1999.
Our martyrs were remembered at the Kargil War Memorial at Dras in Kargil district of Jammu and Kashmir with all the three service chiefs as well as the then Army chief, other veterans and kin of soldiers participating. Friday marked the gallant victory of the Indian armed forces who fought the Pakistani intruders between May-July 1999 in the Dras, Kargil and Batalik sectors.
IAF chief and Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, were the first to pay tributes to the martyrs of Operation Vijay at the memorial by laying a wreath, followed by observation of two minutes silence by all present.
Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh, Army's Northern Command Chief Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh and 'Fire and Fury' Corps chief Lieutenant General YK Joshi also paid their respects to the martyrs who made the supreme sacrifice on these icy and rocky heights 20 years ago.
Proceedings of the day began with wreath laying by senior dignitaries at the imposing War Memorial located at the foothills of the Tololing feature. This was followed by flagging-in of the "Victory Flame" by General Rawat and its "merging" with the "Eternal Flame" at the memorial.
The Victory Flame was lit by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on July 14 from the Eternal Flame at the National War Memorial in New Delhi and reached Dras after having being carried in relay across a distance of over 1,000 kms through major cities and towns in north India.
Army Chief General Bipin Rawat asserted that India has the right over the entire Jammu and Kashmir, including Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and it is a political decision on how India will wrest it back from Pakistan. The Army will follow the orders.
Speaking on the 20th anniversary of India's victory in the Kargil War, General Rawat said, "India has the right over the entire Jammu and Kashmir, including Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). How we will take it back is a political decision. Will it be taken in back in a diplomatic manner or will there be another way, it will be decided. The step to be taken next will be carried out as per orders."
President Ram Nath Kovind paid tribute at Badami Bagh Cantonment in Srinagar on the occasion of Kargil Vijay Divas. The President was earlier scheduled to visit Kargil War Memorial in Dras. However, the visit was called off due to bad weather.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi recalled his visit to Kargil in 1999 during the India-Pakistan war and described as "unforgettable" his interactions with the soldiers. PM Modi tweeted, "During the Kargil War in 1999, I had the opportunity to go to Kargil and show solidarity with our brave soldiers. This was the time when I was working for my Party in Jammu and Kashmir as well as Himachal Pradesh. The visit to Kargil and interactions with soldiers are unforgettable." He also shared photographs in which he can be seen interacting with the soldiers.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that `Kargil Vijay Divas` symbolises the "courage and valour" of the Indian Army. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that the whole country pays tributes to the fallen soldiers, whose courage and sacrifice were inspirational."
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla too paid his tributes and bowed before the courage and valour of the armed forces.
Indian cricketers also paid their tributes to the soldiers on the 20th anniversary of India`s victory in the Kargil war. "We will never forget all the sacrifices you made for us. Respect, Love, Salute.," tweeted India captain Virat Kohli.
Since 1999, July 26 is celebrated as the Kargil Vijay Diwas every year to commemorate the victory of Operation Vijay. While the 60-day long war resulted in the loss of several lives on both the sides, India eventually won the unofficial war by regaining control of all the previously held territory, re-establishing the status quo ante-bellum.
The 20th anniversary of Operation Vijay was observed across the nation with the theme of "Remember - Rejoice - Renew" by remembering the martyrs and by revisiting their sacrifices to instill pride and respect, rejoicing by celebrating the victory and renewing the resolve to safeguard the honour of the tricolour.