Pak economic condition bad, trying for grants
Prez pays tributes; briefed on situation by Guv, Advisors
JAMMU/SRINAGAR, July 26: President Ram Nath Kovind had to cancel his visit to Drass in Kargil district today to pay tributes at War Memorial on 20th anniversary of India’s victory over Pakistan in view of bad weather conditions but landed in Srinagar and offered tributes to the martyrs at 15 Corps Headquarters while three Service chiefs including Gen Bipin Rawat, Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa and Admiral Karambir Singh joined the victory celebrations at Drass with Gen Rawat maintaining that terrorists are being trained in Pakistan and they were provided not just moral but financial support as well as weaponry.
Gen Rawat’s statement that terrorists were being trained in Pakistan and that the neighbour was infiltrating people from across the border to join hands with the local youth to up the ante of terrorists came just couple of days after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan admitted that 30,000 to 40,000 terrorists were still present in their country.
Kovind was scheduled to reach Drass this morning to pay tributes to Kargil war martyrs at ‘War Memorial’. Three Service chiefs had reached Drass to receive the President, who happened to be the Supreme Commander of the Services. However, officials said, due to bad weather conditions, the visit of Kovind to Drass was called off as his helicopters were not in a position to land there.
Fly Past by the fighter aircrafts, which had taken part in 1999 Kargil war, was also cancelled due to bad weather, they said.
The President then visited 15 Corps Headquarters at Srinagar and paid tributes to the fallen soldiers by laying a wreath at the war memorial.
The President was accompanied by Governor Satya Pal Malik and GoC 15 Corps Lt Gen KJS Dhillon at the Corps headquarters.
The President was briefed about security situation and development works at the Raj Bhawan by Governor Satya Pal Malik, Advisors-K Vijay Kumar, Farooq Khan, K Skandan and Kewal Sharma, Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam and Director General of Police Dilbag Singh.
“The briefing to Kovind was given on all aspects of security and development scenario of the State,” official sources told the Excelsior.
They said the President had half an hour long stay at the Raj Bhawan before departing for New Delhi.
Later, Kovind tweeted that the country remains grateful to the Armed Forces, which served in the Kargil conflict and defended its sovereignty with incredible valour.
“On #KargilVijayDiwas, paid tributes to our martyrs at Chinar Corps (15 Corps) War Memorial in Srinagar. India remains grateful to those in our Armed Forces who served in the Kargil conflict and defended our sovereignty with incredible valour. Jai Hind!” Kovind tweeted.
“We salute the grit and valour of those who defended India and record our everlasting debt to those who never returned,” Kovind said.
Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat, Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa and Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh paid tributes at the War Memorial in Drass this morning.
Speaking to media persons later, Gen Rawat said they (a reference to Pakistan without naming the neighbour) were making every attempt to keep Kashmir issue alive as they have been singled out as a State which is sponsoring terrorism on the Indian soil.
“The world at large knows that terrorists are being trained in Pakistan. They have training camps. They are providing not just moral support but financial support as well as weaponry to terrorists,” the Army chief said, adding that they are infiltrating people from across the border to join hands with the local youth to up the ante of terrorists.
Asserting that radicalization and social media are being extensively used to fuel trouble in Jammu and Kashmir, Gen Rawat said these are desperate attempts to keep Kashmir issue alive because they (the Pakistan establishment) know they have been singled out and that this issue (Kashmir) may no longer be an issue with the international community.
He added that they will try to gain some kind of support of the international community, which is dying down.
Replying to a question on Pakistan claim that it was acting against terrorists, he said: “there is difference between talks and action and you should only believe in talks when you see action happening on ground”.
Maintaining that Pakistan was passing through very bad economic condition, Gen Rawat said this time economic situation (of Pakistan) is very bad and they will be ready to do anything to get grants. However, he asserted, once they get grants what action they will take? (just like what they have done in the past).
“Who gave orders and directions there (in Pakistan), you know very well,” he said in a reference towards Pakistan army which calls shots in the neighbouring country.
Gen Rawat said the country can be rest assured that any task given to defence services will always be accomplished no matter how difficult or how challenging it is. “Our soldiers will continue to man and guard borders under challenging circumstances”.
He appealed to Kashmiri youth to shun guns and look after their families for a better and peaceful future.
“Any local youth who picks up the gun is no longer innocent,” he said, adding that the Army is trying hard to motivate families of these “misguided” youth to compel them to shun guns and come back to the mainstream.
He said that no parent wants his children to do PhD only to become a militant.
The Army chief again warned Pakistan of a ‘bloodier nose’ if it chooses to go into another war with India
“This was a misadventure. Misadventures are normally not repeated. You’ll get a bloodier nose next time,” he warned.
”I recall the statement by the then Prime Minister (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee when he said that Indian forces have been directed to remove infiltration. He went on to add that even before we launch the forces, we are confident the victory will be ours, and the forces didn’t let him down,” Gen Rawat recalled.
Despite icy heights and difficult circumstances, he said Indian soldiers ensured that the task given to them was completed. He (the soldier) knew that he had to live by the reputation of Indian Army,” he said.
Gen Rawat said today is a day to pay homage to those who laid their lives, those who were wounded and to those who supported the units and formations involved in combat.
Talking about the modernizing the Army’s inventory, the Army chief said that the focus is on the artillery weapon system. ”We are looking at modernizing our inventory. Our focus is on Artillery weapon system, by 2020 we will get the Howitzers. We are manufacturing K-9 Vajra in collaboration with South Korea in the country now. Two Bofors like guns are also being manufactured locally under Make in India,” he said.
However, he said the modernization of the inventory can’t happen overnight. “Because the new technology is coming in, it don’t mean that the weapon system which you have will stop firing and can’t be used. We are still using age old weapons, and they have not become obsolete,” he added.
Gen Rawat said once the Artillery weapon system is modernized then the Army will shift its focus on mechanized forces.
India is celebrating 20th anniversary of Kargil victory across the country. On July 26, 1999 Indian troops had evicted Pakistan army and intruders from Indian boundary.
It was on July 26, 1999, Indian Army had declared successful culmination of ‘Operation Vijay’, declaring a victory after nearly two-month-long battles on the icy heights of Kargil. India had lost around 500 soldiers in the war.
“July 26 is immortalized as ‘Kargil Vijay Diwas’ and represents a saga of glorious victory of the nation in the Kargil conflict fought from May-July in 1999. Indian Army soldiers fought legendary battles in Drass, Kakas, Beatnik and Turtok Sectors. We salute the courage, valour and sacrifices of our martyrs and heroes,” the Army said in an official statement.
The Indian Army responded to the intrusion with ‘Operation Vijay’, fighting battles on rugged terrains and difficult peaks.
The Indian Air Force had joined the operation with their ‘Operation Safed Sagar’ under which, the IAF for the first time used high-precision bombs to target the enemy.
The Mirage-2000 aircraft played a crucial role in the battles fought during the war and also hit enemy targets bunkered in at the Tiger Hill, besides tasting success at Muntho Dhalo in June 1999.
“Mirage-2000 was the game changer in the Kargil War. It skewed the asymmetry of the military assets in our favour,” a senior IAF officer said, adding that Mirage-2000 made a big difference for India.
On June 24, 1999, Mirages had bombed Tiger Hill using laser-guided precision bombs, and eventually recaptured the strategic position.
Air Marshal B S Dhanoa, who was the Commanding Officer of the 17 Squadron at the time of the war, said deploying Mirage-2000 jets and air support to ground forces had turned the tide of the 1999 war in favour of India.
“Tiger Hill was also a message at that particular time that no matter how small you are, no matter how precariously you are positioned, we will be able to get you and hit you,” Dhanoa said.
The IAF today paid their homage with a special video showing glimpses of its operations during the 1999 conflict.
With taglines like ‘Valour Unhindered’, ‘Determination Unmoved’ and ‘Courage Unparalleled’, the Air Force prides itself as the ‘Keeper of the Blue Skies’ and always ‘ready for whatever it takes’.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee & Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, paid tributes to the martyrs of Operation Vijay at the Kargil War Memorial by laying a wreath, followed by observation of two minutes silence by all those present. Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Karambir Singh, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command and Lieutenant General YK Joshi, General Officer Commanding, ‘Fire & Fury’ Corps paid their respects to the martyrs who made the supreme sacrifice on these icy heights 20 years ago. Gen VP Malik (Retd), Chief of Army Staff during the Kargil War and several senior military and civilian dignitaries, veterans and ‘Veer Naris’ were also present on the occasion.
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 the Chief of Army Staff and merging of the same with the ‘Eternal Flame’ at the Kargil War Memorial. The Victory Flame was lit by the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on July 14 from the Eternal Flame at the National War Memorial. It reached Drass after having traversed a distance of over 1000 km from New Delhi, carried by relay through major cities and towns in North India.
After the wreath laying ceremony, the Service Chiefs visited the Hut of Remembrance, located in the War Memorial premises, where they paid tributes to the martyrs and were briefed on the valour of the brave soldiers, who made the supreme sacrifice for the nation in the epic battles fought in the summer of 1999. The Chiefs also interacted with the invitees especially ‘Veer Naris’ and veterans as well as troops deployed in the sector.
“The 20th anniversary of Operation Vijay is being celebrated across the nation with the theme of ‘REMEMBER – REJOICE – RENEW.’ We ‘Remember’ our martyrs, by revisiting the sacrifices and instilling pride and respect among us, we ‘Rejoice’ by celebrating the victory in Kargil and we ‘Renew’ our resolve to safeguard the honour of the Tricolour, the Army statement said.