It has been 16 years since the Kargil war, but the memory of the conflict and the loss of our brave soldiers remain fresh in our mind, who responded to the call of duty and defended our borders. In a new book titled ‘Kargil: Turning the Tide’, Lieutenant General Mohinder Puri, who headed the 8 Mountain Division, said it was the speed and spontaneity of attacks by Indian Army that led to the their victory in the 1999 Kargil war.
The book gives a first-hand narrative of the operations of the 8 Mountain Division, which was tasked to throw out the enemy from the Drass-Mushkoh Sector during ‘Operation Vijay’.
Kargil War Memorial (caclubindia)
Puri recounted one such incident where after several failed attempts to capture the pivotal Tololing peak, he had asked his men to attack again the next evening. However, as he reached his headquarters, India had already conquered the strategic position.
The victory over Tololing, a dominant position overlooking Srinagar- Leh Highway (NH-1D), was so important that it led to a string of successes by evicting the intruders in four nearby outposts.
Puri said, Colonel MB Ravindranath, commanding officer of the 2 Rajputana Rifles, radioed him, camping some 20-km away and said, “Sir, I’m on Tololing top.”
According to General VP Malik, who had inaugurated the event, and had authored a book titled “Kargil – From Surprise To Victory” in 2006 on the same subject, most of the books on the Kargil war are hearsay, and there are only two authentic books on this topic, one is by General Puri and the other by him.
He said the book is a good read as it brings out vividly the emotions of the soldiers before they went into the battle, during the battle and after the battle has ended.
Malik added that Puri’s work is a moving tale of fortitude, valour and exemplary junior leadership, having stories about several close quarters, hand to hand battles fought in challenging environment, inclement weather and an entrenched enemy. According to the author, India suffered very high casualties in the successive battles that were fought during the war with 268 killed and over 818 soldiers wounded.
Indian soldiers from the division, who had fought and laid their lives for the country, were honoured with a rich haul of gallantry awards that included 3 Param Vir Chakras, 8 Mahavir Chakras and 42 Vir Chakras.
Sweet Victory. funonthenet
Television journalist Barkha Dutt, who was also present at the event, shared her experience of the war:
“I was very young when I went to the field and many of the soldiers whom I met were one or two years younger to me. Although it was against the backdrop of violence, the valour and the courage that I saw in Kargil was the most intense and profound experience of my life and it changed me in ways no other assignment that I have reported on has,” she said.
A clip from Barkha Dutt’s reporting of the Kargil War. (Twitter/ @BDUTT)
In April 1999, the Pakistan Army along with Mujahideen crossed the 168 km Line of Control (LoC), along Kargil and occupied high vantage points. The war lasted till July 14, 1999.
During the Kargil conflict, the Indian artillery fired over 250,000 shells, bombs and rockets, and nearly 5,000 artillery shells, mortar bombs and rockets were fired daily from 300 guns, mortars and MBRLs.