Kargil Vijay Diwas – 1999 and 2020.
Vijay Diwas – 1999 and 2020.
Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’
Every year, young officers pass out of Indian Military academy with Chetwood
Motto “The safety honour and welfare of the country comes first, always and every
time. The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next. Your
own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time”.
With this DNA inscribed firmly, the young officers of the Indian army fought
the Kargil war and added a glorious chapter in the military history of the nation.
Indeed, it was a unique war fought at such an altitude, hostile terrain conditions and
well-trenched enemy. Our young officers and soldiers led the assault and captured
them with steel and blood. Many of them made the supreme sacrifice to safeguard
their motherland. Their one liners, “Ye dil maange more” to “I will observe you from
stars” is still fresh in the minds of every Indian.
One of the war heroes had famously said – “Either I will come back after
hoisting the tricolour or I will come back wrapped in it, but I will be back for sure” and
some of them did come back home in eternal slumber--wrapped in tricolour. The
nation stood tall with the gallantry and sacrifice of these young men. The leadership
at all levels from armed forces to parliament underwent the true acid test and
Armed forces have a tradition of leading from the front and lead by example.
Right from the military leadership of the fighting section till highest echelons led the
campaign in a very spectacular and inspirational way. The Prime Minister Atal Bihari
Vajpayee visited the forward bases amidst war and boosted the morale of the army.
The country stood united behind its armed forces forgetting the ideological and
In 1999, the then Government of Uttar Pradesh assigned me the role of Nodal
Minister, and I was tasked to coordinate and organise the last rites of all the martyrs
with full state honours. It was for the first time that the last rites of all the martyrs
were organised with full state honour and the tradition continues till date. It was
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s firm belief that the heroes of the nation should
be welcomed with full state honour on their final journey. This galvanised the entire
nation into a single and united entity across the parties and social strata. But it was a
moment of utmost pain and pride for me. I felt the grief of the veer naris, children,
mothers, sisters, and fathers who gave up their young boys for this nation without
expecting anything in return.
After two decades, today, almost at the same time in Galwan valley, our brave
hearts again rose to the occasion and gave a befitting reply to the adversary. The
country is full of pride for their gallant action. Our Prime Minister’s visit to the Leh
and border areas is a clear indication and firm message that the unquestioned leader
of 130 crore people is there to assure that the entire nation stands in unison behind
It is so heartening to see that when the entire nation celebrates Diwali at
home with their families, our Prime Minister is there at our borders celebrating it with
our soldiers in frontier areas. During the last six years, he has done it without failing
and made the brave soldiers of armed forces as his family. This is our leadership
that is willing to walk the talk.
Under the visionary leadership of our Prime Minister, the defence
modernisation and operational preparedness is at new levels. The Armed forces and
their demands have been a key focus area of the government. There is no delay or
denial in fulfilling the demands of our armed forces. The Prime minister put his entire
political capital at stake amidst the misinformed and malicious political propaganda
of some parties but did not let the armed forces be down with his commitment to add
Rafale to their arsenal.
On this Kargil day, I can see parallels between the committed leadership this
country had in 1999 and what it is having now. In the changing global order, India is
rising as a major power and defence forces are the most significant element of
comprehensive national power (CNP). “India that is Bharat” is no more a country
pleading for mercy, ceasefire and requesting foreign aids to fight a war. Under the
dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi, we are the force to
reckon with in the new world order and global firepower index. We are advocates of
peace, prosperity and mutual coexistence, no doubt, but not at the cost of our
The union government stands committed to take bold decisions in the national
interest. We must remember that while we take any decision that our flag does not
fly because the wind moves it, it flies with the last breath of each soldier who died
My salute to the heroes of the nation! Today let’s celebrate our heroes who stand
behind us so that we can smile.
(The author is Minister of Human Resource Development, Government of India)