Ready to cross LoC if need arises, troops given free hand to eliminate enemies: DM

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Army chief Gen Manoj Pande paying homage to Kargil war martyrs at Drass on Wednesday. Another pic on page 3. -Excelsior Basharat Ladakhi
DRASS (KARGIL) JUL 26 (UNI):- Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Army Chief General Manoj Pande paying homage to Kargil War martyrs at War Memorial in Ladakh's Drass on the occasion of 24th anniversary of Kargil Vijay Diwas on Wednesday. UNI PHOTO-18u

‘People should be ready to support Army directly’

*CDS, 3 Service chiefs pay tribute

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, July 26: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today declared that India is ready to cross the Line of Control (LoC) if need arises saying no compromise can be made with sovereignty, unity and integrity of the country.
He was addressing Kargil Vijay Diwas celebrations at Drass in Kargil district in the Union Territory of Ladakh this morning in the presence of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen Anil Chauhan, three Service chiefs Gen Manoj Pande, Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari and Admiral R Hari Kumar, Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh Brig (Retd) BD Mishra, Gen Ved Prakash Malik, who was Army chief during Kargil war, Northern Command chief Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi, among others.
The nation today celebrated 24th Kargil Vijay Diwas as it was in 1999 that after nearly two-month long war, Indian Army forced all Pakistani troops and intruders to retreat inflicting heavy casualties on them. In the war, 559 Indian troops sacrificed their lives.
Rajnath laid a wreath at the memorial to pay tribute to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the 1999 Kargil War.
Asserting that India is ready to cross the LoC to maintain its honour and dignity, Rajnath Singh called upon the civilians to be ready to support the soldiers in such a situation.
“Armed Forces have been given a free hand to eliminate the nation’s enemies as no compromise can be made in protecting sovereignty, unity and integrity of the country,” he said.
Maintaining that Indian can go to any extreme to maintain honour and dignity of the country, Rajnath said “if that requires crossing the LoC, we are ready to do that. If we are provoked and the need arises, we will cross the LoC”.
“India is a peace-loving nation which believes in its centuries-old values and is committed towards international laws, but to safeguard our interests, we will not hesitate in crossing the LoC,” he said.
Calling upon the people to be ready to participate in wars not only indirectly but directly as well, if ever the need arises, the Defence Minister said, people should be mentally prepared, so that whenever the nation needs them, they should be ready to help the armed forces.
“Just as every soldier is an Indian, in the same way, every Indian should be ready to play the role of a soldier,” he added.
Rajnath said whenever there has been a war situation, our public has always supported the forces but that support has been indirect. “I urge the public to be ready to support the soldiers directly on the battlefield if the need arises,” he added.
Singh said the Kargil war was imposed on India, which was “backstabbed” by Pakistan.
“The Kargil war was imposed on India. At that time, India had tried to solve the issues with Pakistan through talks but we were backstabbed by Pakistan,” he said.
“During Operation Vijay, the Indian Army sent a message not only to Pakistan but to the whole world that when it comes to our national interests, our Army will not back down at any cost. We are fully committed to safeguarding our national interests even today,” the Defence Minister said.
Citing the example of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Defence Minister stated that the war, which has been continuing for more than one year, reflects the unpredictable nature of conflicts in today’s times.
“The war has been prolonged as the people are training and joining their military in fighting for their cause,” he said.
Many of the soldiers who fought in the Kargil war were newly married, about to get married or were the sole breadwinners of their families. But they did not think about their lives and put them on the line, Singh said.
“I salute our brave sons who put the country first and sacrificed their lives. Their sacrifices have not gone waste, their contribution will continue to inspire generations,” he added.
The Defence Minister also called upon the Army to work towards ensuring that the contribution of these unsung heroes does not go unnoticed.
The Indian Army had launched a fierce counter-assault, Operation Vijay, to push back Pakistani forces that had stealthily occupied important heights in Ladakh in 1999.
The war saw Indian armed forces fight in the most challenging terrains amid harsh weather conditions in Drass, Kargil and Batalik sectors.
Kargil Vijay Diwas is observed to mark India’s victory over Pakistan.
The ceremony at Drass also witnessed a gathering of war heroes, veer naris and the families of the fallen heroes.
Singh interacted with them and extended heartfelt gratitude while recalling all those who made the supreme sacrifice in the service of the nation. He assured them that the sacrifices of these bravehearts will never be forgotten.
Meanwhile, Army chief Gen Manoj Pande today said the dangers and challenges before the armed forces are likely to get more complex in the future and India needs to be ready to face them.
He said the armed forces should prepare for the future keeping in mind the possible challenges.
“Dangers and challenges before us are likely to get complex in the future, we need to be ready,” General Pande told reporters at the Kargil War Memorial in Drass.
“We have been working on adaptive, resilient and responsive processes. Our Army will emerge as a technology-enabled and future-ready force to deal with security challenges,” he said.
The Army chief noted that the country will never forget the supreme sacrifice of the soldiers in the 1999 Kargil war.
“Operation Vijay was a difficult and high-intensity military operation. It was a difficult terrain that was under the possession of the enemy. It was a challenge that our soldiers accomplished…I also want to commend the Air warriors for their contribution in achieving the final objective,” he said.
The Army chief also laid a wreath at the Kargil War Memorial here to pay tributes to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the 1999 war.
All three service chiefs paid homage to the fallen soldiers on the 24th anniversary of the Kargil Vijay Diwas.
Chief of Defence Staff Gen Anil Chauhan, Army Chief Gen Pande, along with IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari and Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar, paid homage to the martyrs and bravehearts of the Kargil War at the Kargil War Memorial, Drass in Ladakh.
“On the occasion of #KargilVijayDiwas 2023, General Anil Chauhan #CDS, General Manoj Pande #COAS, Admiral R Hari Kumar #CNS & Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari #CAS laid wreaths and paid homage to the #Bravehearts of #KargilWar at the #KargilWarMemorial, #Dras. CDS and three service chiefs expressed everlasting gratitude towards the selfless sacrifice of the valiant & courageous #Bravehearts of #KargilWar during the solemn occasion. #IndianArmy #Kargil,” the army tweeted and shared some pictures.
The Army has also been putting up posts on its social media handles in the last few days to mark the 24th anniversary of the occasion.
#KargilVijayDiwas ‘Our hard-earned victory is a testimony to the synergy achieved between the Armed Forces and our Awam which is only set to increase in the days ahead.’ – Jai Hind! General Manoj Pande, COAS #IndianArmy,” the Army tweeted today.
In another tweet, the Army also shared a small tribute video clip.
“#KargilVijayDiwas is a reminiscence of the undaunted bravery & courage of the #Bravehearts who inscribed a golden chapter in history, with their blood & sacrifice. They gave a befitting reply to the enemy’s misadventure and a resounding victory to this #Nation. #OperationVijay #IndianArmy,” it wrote.
The Navy also tweeted and paid homage to Kargil heroes: “#KargilVijayDiwas2023 Adm R Hari Kumar #CNS and all personnel of #IndianNavy salute the extraordinary courage of our #bravehearts which led to this Historic Victory. Their valour, dedication, patriotism & selfless sacrifice will continue to inspire generations to come. Jai Hind!”

Day of pain, pride for kin of bravehearts
It has been over two decades since the Kargil War but Kanta Devi remembers every last word of her conversation with her son before he left home for the battlefront.
He had said that he was the son of the country and not mine, an emotional Devi recalled on Vijay Diwas. She was here to visit the Kargil War Memorial to pay her respects to her son, Grenadier Udhaymaan Singh, who sacrificed his life for the nation during the 1999 conflict.
“I feel happy and proud to see that everyone is paying respects to my son but I did not want to lose my (only) son. I feel so much pain,” she said.
Grenadier Singh was part of the 18 Grenadiers during the war and his regiment, along with two other battalions, was given the responsibility of recapturing Tiger Hill from Pakistani intruders.
The battalion launched an attack and reached the top of the hill but faced intense firing from the enemy. Grenadier Singh suffered a fatal gunshot and succumbed to injuries.
Tears rolling down her cheeks, Devi recalled when her son came home on vacation for the last time.
“When he came home on vacation, I told him that I wanted him to resign from service and stay home. He asked me what would happen to the country if every mother wished the same? He told me that he was the son of the country now and not mine,” she said.
Devi said a mother can forget everything but not her son.
“A mother’s pain is such. I have two daughters but only one son. How can I forget him?Sometimes I think I should forget him because he won’t come back but how can I? I remember everything about him,” the sobbing mother said.
Referring to the Vijay Diwas, Devi said this is her first visit to the War Memorial.
“I feel happy on this day as well. This is the first time that I have come here and I feel good. The whole country feels good but I also feel sadness. I cannot listen to patriotic songs. When they played one here, it made me remember him, he was tall and handsome,” she added.
“There is a lot of sadness. At the same time, I feel proud that my son saved my country. I have nothing to do with Tiger Hill but he saved it (for the nation),” Devi said.
For the families of the jawans who laid down their lives protecting Indian territory from intruders, the Kargil Vijay Diwas — the day on which the nation commemorates its victory in the Kargil War — is an occasion that invokes feelings of both pain and pride.
As India celebrates the 24th anniversary of its triumph in the Kargil War, the families of those killed in the conflict remember their loved ones with pride. The feelings of sadness, however, have not waned.
Charu Lata Acharya, a Veer Naari, feels that the Vijay Diwas is a celebration of the sacrifices of soldiers like her husband — Major P Acharya of the 2 Rajputana Rifles.
“On one side, you feel that you have lost your loved one, your husband, who promised to be with you for life but, being a fauji’s (soldier’s) wife, I feel proud that the motherland was before his family,” she said.
Acharya said she feels proud not only of her husband but of all the soldiers equally.
“I feel really proud,” she added.
The Vijay Diwas is an occasion to celebrate and not mourn the sacrifices of the soldiers, she said.
“Some people keep a fast according to their religion, some celebrate Diwali. For us, our family, this is our Diwali and Pongal. This is our celebration. We do not mourn our soldiers’ sacrifices, we celebrate. We are proud of their sacrifice,” Acharya said.
Manmohan Pandey, the brother of Captain Manoj Pandey — who was tasked with clearing the route to Khalubar Top for his battalion and fatally collapsed at the final bunker after completing his mission — said the day evokes a feeling of pride.
“Coming here, seeing those points, I had the same feeling that I had when he (Captain Pandey) achieved martyrdom. It is a feeling of pride. If there is anything we feel inside, it is pride,” he said.
Pandey, who came with his children, said he wanted to show them who the real superheroes were.
On his third visit to the memorial, Pandey said “I get a feeling of pride and bravery (whenever I come here)”.
“We cannot give anything other than our respects to them. They have given us a lot. They have left us but they also inspired us. Our future generations will keep getting inspiration from them,” he added.