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One of the fiercest battles in the history of the Indo-Pak conflict, the Kargil War of 1999 was fought in the treacherous mountains of Kargil district of Jammu and Kashmir in May 1999. The war that claimed the lives of hundreds of brave hearts and earned the Indian Army four PVCs, seven MVCs and 52 Vir Chakras was one of the most challenging in terms of terrain, geography, atmospheric adversities, and the usual Pakistan Army’s gimmicks. The expectations of an era of peace were ushered when the then Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif signed the Lahore Declaration, which was aimed at providing the framework for peaceful relations between the parties whereby all issues, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, would be resolved by peaceful means on 21Feb 1999.

In a sudden turn of events, shortly after the signing of the Lahore Declaration, Pakistani forces disguised as Kashmiri terrorists infiltrated on the Indian side of the LC and took over the Indian Army’s winter vacated posts, as part of an operation, code-named “Operation Badr”. That is when "Operation Vijay" came into the spotlight, which was launched by the Indian Army after the first infiltration of enemies was reported on 03May 1999. The Battle of Point 4875 was a pivotal chapter in the Kargil War of 1999 that unfolded amidst the treacherous terrain of the Drass Sect in Jammu and Kashmir. At an elevation of 4,875 meters, the rocky, snow-clad feature became a symbol of the fierce struggle between Indian and Pakistani forces.

The capturing of this objective was assigned to 13 JAK Rif, the Battalion that had distinguished itself at Pt 5140 in the Drass Sect. On 1 Jul 1999, this Battalion congregated in the Mashkoh Valley. After three days of planning and prep, the attack was launched with the support of twenty one fire units ex 8 Arty Brigade. The attack was launched on 07 Jul 1999, with Major SV Bhaskar leading the A Company from the Eastern slopes of Pt 4875 and C Company under Maj Gurpreet Singh assaulting from the Western slopes of South Spur, with an aim to capture Flat Top. On the other hand, the task to recapture adjacent features-Pimples 1 and 2 and Twin Bumps were assigned to 17JAT and 2 Naga respectively. The Company Commander suffered injuries during the initial attack on Pt 4875.

The attack squad broke into two teams with Captain Vikram Batra leading one and Captain Nayyar of 17 JAT leading the other. After the artillery fire lifted, MMGs from the fire base under Captain Vikram Batra fired tracer rounds to assist the assault companies in maintaining the proper direction. By assaulting from two directions, the Battalion managed to divide the enemy’s attention. But when the companies came close to the objective, they were pinned down by accurate small arms and MMGs fired from Pt 4875. The companies assaulted the enemy position once again and were able to capture Flat Top by the afternoon of 05 Jul 1999.

The next day, the enemy subjected these troops to heavy Artillery shelling and intermittent MMG fire. Both sides fired missiles and grenades at each other throughout the night. In this action, it became clear that the enemy location immediately to the north of Pt 4875 would have to be captured. Captain Vikram Batra volunteered to undertake this task and lead his men to accomplish the mission. On 07 Jul 1999, he and his company went to remove enemy defenses from a small area that led up to Pt 4875 and area ledge that had sharp cuttings on both sides. Capt Batra directed the assault from the front and wrestled with the enemy. At pt black range, he shot and killed five enemy soldiers but he also suffered critical injuries. He moved toward the sangar and launched grenades to destroy the adversary position despite his wounds. His men were motivated by his fearless tenacity to drive the enemy back from a dominant position. Later, he succumbed to the injuries.

Troops of company were inspired by his fearless tenacity and leadership to fight with all might and eventually take control of Pt 4875. The failure of intelligence was perhaps the fore most reason that Pakistan achieved such a surprise in intruding into the India side of the line of control. Pakistan had planned the Kargil misadventure with meticulous care, right from training of its Army reg to the logistics back up required. Another major intelligence failure in the initial stages was the inability to establish invaders real identity. 121 Infantry Brigade at Kargil with an AOR of 160 kms could not have adequately covered it’s given even with the most energetic commanders. The 56 Infantry Brigade was raised to take over half their responsibility but the formation could not be deployed as it was employed on CI tasks in the valley. One of the reasons for critical shortages has been the severe defense cuts. From a peak of 3.6 percent in 1987-88, the share of expenditure in India’s GDP slipped to 2.33 percent in 1998-99.

This had a major impact on the procurement of the much required defense eqpt and therefore impacted the morale of the troops adversely. One of the main lessons of this conflict is the need for maintaining a balanced force level, one commensurate with the anticipated threat, and so positioned as to be able to counter rapidly any hostile attempt to seize the initiative in any sector. The Kargil War of 1999 was a three months long kerfuffle between India and Pakistan that commenced in May 1999 and ended in July 1999. Capture of Pt 4875 added to the series of victories of Indian Army in the culmination stage and thereby helped India to emerge as victorious. All this could be achieved due to valour and supreme sacrifice of Brave hearts of Indian Army.

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