Teary eyed but proud family members of the martyrs who laid down their lives on the icy heights of Kargil ten years ago came together on Sunday during a visit to the area where their loved ones made the supreme sacrifice. On July 26, 1999 the Indian armed forces broke the back of a Pakistani misadventure in the forbidden heights of Batalik, Kargil and Drass sectors after a 59-day war.
It was an emotional reunion of sorts for the families of the war heroes who had come from all over the country at the invitation of the armed forces to attend the Kargil Vijay Diwas at the War Memorial in Drass. Recalling their loved ones, their families pledged that they would send more members to join the armed forces. Proud relatives moved around the War Memorial and got an account of what happened 10 years ago from the personnel of the forces, colleagues and friends of their sons, brothers and husbands who laid their lives on the way to victory in the war.
Recalling the war, former chief of staff, General V P Malik said he was reminded of the determination which showed on the faces (of the war heroes) and they proved it on theground. "Everytime, I came and was always impressed...It showed that yes, we can do it," Malik said. "There is no question of not fighting a war of this kind if an initiative is taken by any of our enemies," he said.
In the war, 610 officers and men, including five Air Force personnel and two civilians, laid down their lives. The war, fought on what is often termed as one of the highest battlefields in the world, brought the people together as never before and the nation emerged stronger. Recalling the battle, Major Sachin (18 Grenadiers) who was visiting the place for the first time after the war, said that it has given an opportunity to relive his memories - some good, some bad and nostalgia. He said his battalion was tasked with an important objective of Tiger Hill and were happy that they were able to capture it.The Major said that at the same time, he felt sad that a number of his comrades, including some of his good friends, lost their lives.
Air Vice Marshal J Chauhan recalled the role of the Air Force, saying there was a requirement of carrying out a reconnaisance of the hostile locations in close conjuction with the army so that brave soldiers could go and occupy them.
Recalling that the terrain was tough and the heights of the targets were so high that they had to operate from 30,000 feet, Chauhan said no Air Force in the world has donethis. He said they had to work on the ways and means of how to achieve those impossible targets as they were not allowed to cross the LoC and carrying out attacks was reallydifficult.