On Vijay Diwas, which is observed on July 26 every year, glowing tributes are rightly paid to the soldiers who laid down their lives to ensure India’s victory in the historic Kargil War. But the nation also witnesses another drama of a different kind.
Many retired Army generals who have only ever seen snow in Bollywood classics like Kashmir ki Kali and Aarzoo—and who have never seen an artillery shell fall closer than two kilometers—emerge as great authorities on TV channels. Some even appear to be screaming their lungs out. From the security of television studios, they take pride in themselves for ensuring India’s triumph in Kargil and engage in a lot of chest-thumping. But in the clamour, the truth about the mishap that cost more than 500 Indian soldiers their lives and injured another 1,500 throughout the conflict is lost.
There is a dark side to Kargil that needs to be discussed, even as I admire the young soldiers without whose courage and sacrifice India could never have won the Kargil War.
The events that led to the Kargil disaster, which I will describe in more detail in the next paragraphs, are not secret. They can be found in court documents, material obtained through RTI requests, and novels written by war participants including General V.P. Malik, Major General Verma, Captain Amarinder Singh, and a select few others. In reality, all of them relied on General Malik’s action reports as well as briefings from Army headquarters to put their books together.
The Kargil War is now more than 22 years behind us. The corps commander has since died, while other high-ranking officials, including the army commander and his chief of staff, the DGMOs, the MSs, the DGMI, the divisional commander and other brigade commanders are already very old. A proper inquiry involving some of these old generals and others may reveal several issues. These revelations may have serious implications for the national security of India.