The Nation paid rich tributes to the brave soldiers of the 1999 Kargil war on the 24th anniversary of India’s historic victory, which is celebrated as ‘Kargil Vijay Diwas’ on 26th July every year. To mark the day, Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh today visited the Kargil War Memorial at Dras in Ladakh, laid a wreath and paid homage to the valiant soldiers who displayed unparalleled bravery during ‘Operation Vijay’.
The ceremony at Dras also witnessed a gathering of war heroes, Veer Naris and the families of the fallen heroes. Shri Rajnath 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.
Addressing the gathering, the Raksha Mantri commended the valour and commitment of the Armed Forces, which have, time and again, helped the country stand tall in times of crisis. India of today rests on the foundation of the sacrifices made by the soldiers, he said. Shri Rajnath Singh described ‘Operation Vijay’ as an episode that displayed India’s grit and determination as it stood its ground in the face of adverse circumstances. He also termed the victory as a launch pad that propelled the nation to achieve heights of success.
“Our greatness is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we fall. Despite the adversary having tactical military advantage during the war, our forces displayed unmatched bravery and skill to push them back and reclaim our land. With the victory, India sent a message to Pakistan and the world that our military will not back down at any cost if the nation’s interests are harmed,” said Shri Rajnath Singh.
The Raksha Mantri assured all that the Government is fully committed to safeguarding national interests, no matter the challenge. “No compromise will be made in protecting the sovereignty, unity and integrity of the country. We have given a free hand to the Armed Forces to eliminate the nation’s enemies. 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. Earlier, the nation and the Armed Forces lacked political will, which has now been provided by our Government, led by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. We stand firm with our forces. The people and Parliament have full faith in our soldiers,” he said.
Shri Rajnath Singh recalled the heroic deeds of a number of bravehearts of the Kargil war, including Param Vir Chakra (PVC) Awardees Captain Vikram Batra & Captain Manoj Pandey and Vir Chakra (VrC) Awardees Lieutenant Colonel R Vishwanathan, Captain Jintu Gogoi, Captain Vijayant Thapar & Naib Subedar Mangej Singh, who are a source of inspiration for the future generations and will be remembered forever.
The Raksha Mantri made special mention of Flight Lieutenants Gunjan Saxena & Srividya Rajan who showcased exceptional courage during the war and spread the message that Indian women are no less than their male counterparts when it comes to securing the country’s borders. He highlighted that all these soldiers belonged to different regions of India, but fought as one to protect the interests of the nation and its people.
Shri Rajnath Singh said that wars are fought & won with not just weapons and bombs; bravery and indomitable spirit will play an equally important role. He said, this will power and sense of national pride is what separates Indian soldiers from the rest, adding that “our forces are imbued with the values of patriotism for the protection of the country, its civilisation and culture.”
Citing the example of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Raksha Mantri stated that the war, which has been continuing for last more than one year, reflects the unpredictable nature of conflicts in today’s times. He added that the war has been prolonged as the people are training and joining their military in fighting for their cause.
Shri Rajnath Singh called upon the people to be ready to participate in wars not only indirectly but directly as well, if ever the need arises. “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 said.
Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh Brigadier (Dr) BD Mishra (Retd), Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan, Chief of the Army Staff General Manoj Pande, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, former Army Chief General VP Malik (Retd), General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Northern Command Lieutenant General Upendra Dwivedi, General Officer Commanding, 14 Corps Lieutenant General Rashim Bali, Lieutenant General YK Joshi (Retd) and Lieutenant General Amarnath Aul (Retd) attended the ceremony.
The presence of Subedar Major Sanjay Kumar, a true example of courage & determination and recipient of PVC and Havildar Digendra Kumar, Maha Vir Chakra inspired the gathering. Shri Manmohan Pandey, brother of Captain Manoj Pandey, PVC and Shri Vishal Batra, brother of Captain Vikram Batra, PVC also graced the occasion. The event at Dras marked a moment of unity, gratitude, and pride, as the nation came together to acknowledge the heroism that defines the ‘Spirit of India’.
In the national capital, Raksha Rajya Mantri Shri Ajay Bhatt, Defence Secretary Shri Giridhar Aramane, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) Lt Gen JP Mathew and the Vice Chiefs of the three Services laid wreaths at the National War Memorial and paid homage to the fallen heroes.