Mangaluru: To mark the 16th anniversary of the ‘Kargil Vijay Divas’ a Wreath laying Ceremony was organized by the Dakshina Kannada District Ex-Servicemen Association in collaboration with Shasthavu Sri Bhoothanatheshwara Trust at the War Memorial-Kadri Hills here on Sunday, July 26 at 10 am. Dr D Veerendra Heggade (Dharmadhikari, Sri Manjunatheshwara Temple, Dharmasthala) laid the Wreath, followed by other dignitaries who also took part in the Wreath Laying Ceremony, namely – Dr N Vinay Hegde (Chancellor, Nitte University), Capt Ganesh Karnik (MLC and also a veteran), Snt PI Sreevidya IAS (CEO, DK Zilla Panchayat), Col SR Sriram (Group commander, NCC), Dr Sharanappa SD (Superintendent of Police, DK), Ln M Kavitha Shastri (Governor, Lions district 317D), Vijaynath Vittal Shetty (Chief Coordinator, Shasthavu Sri Boothanatheshwara Temple), Armed Forced Officers and the general public.
Speaking to the mediapersons during the Wreath laying Ceremony, Dharmadhikari Veerendra Heggade said, “We have gathered here as a mark of respect towards all soldiers who have laid their lives in the defense of the nation. Our soldiers showed their bravery during the Kargil war in 1999. They have sacrificed their lives to save our country and protect us from our enemies. We gained victory in the Kargil war and showed to the world that our soldiers are very brave. July 26 is a historic day because more than 1,500 soldiers were wounded and more than 500 soldiers sacrificed their lives for the nation’s freedom. Even now our soldiers are guarding our country on the borders. I salute them and pray for their safety and good health.”
Following the Wreath Laying ceremony at Kadri Hills, the newly built “Sainik Bhavan”-a building for the Defence Veterans, located near the entrance of St Aloysius College-Lighthouse Hill was inaugurated by Dharmadhikari Dr Veerendra Heggade, and Chancellor of Nitte University, Dr N Vinay Hegde. The three storied building has been built at a cost of nearly Rs 75 lakhs. Following the inauguration of “Sainik Bhavan” , a formal function was held at St Aloysius College Hall. The programme began with invoking God’s blessings through a prayer song rendered by Rachana Kamath and group.
Col N Sharath Bhandary-President of DK District Ex-Servicemen association welcomed the gathering, and briefed about their experience at Kargil-he said, “Kargil is a very cold place and dangerous too. The Kargil war is one of the most recent examples of high altitude warfare in mountainous terrain, which posed significant logistical problems for the combating sides. I was commanding a mountain brigade in East Sikkim. Our task was to ensure that nothing happened on the China border when the Pakistani army was attacking Kargil. If the war had escalated there was a possibility of untoward incidents on the Chinese border. Our aim was to maintain tranquility on the Indo- China border and continue to build confidence measures with our neighbouring country, and also keep the morale of our troops high. We had maintained the vigilance and sanctity of the National border. We did send our regiment to Boporse that is 18 guns from our sector to the Kargil sector”.
The programme was inaugurated by lighting the traditional lamp by Dharmadhikari Dr Veerendra Heggade, along with other dignitaries on the dais namely – Dr N Vinay Hegde, Capt Ganesh Karnik, Ln M Kavitha Shastry, Yogish Bhat (former MLA), Vijaynath V Shetty, Beliappa (Commander in charge-Navy Unit DK), Col N Sharath Bhandary, Brig I N Rai (Chairman, Building Committee), SM Airan (Secretary of Association), Vikram Datta (Treasurer of association) and others. A brief report of the Ex-Servicemen’s association activities was read out by Secretary S M Airan.
Vijayanath Shetty paid tribute to Kargil Vijay Divas in a special manner by complimenting the soldiers who fought for the nation. Speaking during the occasion, he said, “This is my third year that I am participating in this vigil. I am very happy to be here to take part in this programme with the former soldiers who are in their uniforms to pay tribute to the soldiers who have sacrificed their lives in the Kargil war and brought us victory. I am really overwhelmed to be here, and I always support the soldiers to the best of my ability. I also request everyone of you to support and donate generously to the “Sainik Bhavan” since it needs more funds to furnish the interior/furniture etc. We all must salute those great souls who had perished in that battle. Make sure you always pay respect and support our soldiers and war veterans.”
A souvenir “Samarpan” was released during the occasion by Dr N Vinay Hegde. Other dignitaries on the dais namely-Yogish Bhat, Capt Ganesh Karnik, Dr N Vinay Hegde spoke and paid tribute to the war martyrs, and also complimented the 4000 plus members of DK Ex-Servicemen’s Association for their service and dedication to the nation. The speakers raising the concern of young persons not joining the armed forces, requested the youth to come forward and serve the nation by recruiting themselves in either one of the three armed forces. They also seeked the support of the citizens to support the Ex-Servicemen in their projects and also donate generously to the “Sainik Bhavan” funds.
Dharmadhikari Dr Veerendra Heggade paid tributes to the Indian armed forces, and hailed their valour and sacrifices which was demonstrated in the Kargil conflict in 1999. He said, “I salute the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the beloved nation. The Kargil Diwas reminds us of the valour and sacrifices of the Indian armed forces. The Kargil war, which began in May 1999, lasted for more than two months before Pakistani soldiers, a bulk of them drawn from its Northern Light Infantry, and irregulars withdrew from the mountain tops they had occupied overlooking the Srinagar-Leh highway. In the conflict, the Indian Army lost 490 officers, soldiers and jawans. My heartfelt tributes to all these martyrs who laid down their lives for the sake of our nation. I have great respect for all the ex-servicemen present here, and when they had asked me to grace this occasion I whole-heartedly accepted their invitation since I love our soldiers very dearly. I humbly request our citizens to respect and say hello when they come across a veteran-by doing this you will make them happy and you will be proud that you met a soldier who fought to save our country. Long live the soldiers.”
Following the vote of thanks proposed by Association treasurer, Vikram Datta-the formal function concluded with a cultural programme comprising of patriotic songs and dances performed by the members of Rotary Club-Hillside, and students of Canara high school (CBSE) under the guidance of Centre for Integrated Learning. The hall was packed with Former Soldiers, VIPs,family members and other leaders.
About Kargil Divas”- as narrated by Col N Sharath Bhandary :
“26 July 1999 is a very important day in the history of India and specially for Indian Armed Forces. On this very day, our valiant Armed Forces drove out Pakistan Army intruders from unauthorised occupation of Indian territory of Kargil, Drass, Tololing, Batalik and Turkok sectors in Kashmir. Under “Operation Badr”, conceived by the Pakistani military, the Pakistani Army (Northern Light Infantry in civilian clothes ) had intruded across the LOC, and surreptitiously occupied the deserted heights of our territory, left unoccupied by the Indian Army due to inhospitable weather conditions during the severe icy winter months”.
“Indian Armed Forces had a difficult task of uprooting and throwing out the well entrenched Pakistan army, (up to 8 – 10 Km across LOC in Batalik ). The terrain is mountainous with jagged cliffs, steep hill sides at heights of 16,000 – 18,000 ft, prone to sudden Avalanches and crevasses, with temperatures plunging to – 40 degrees Celsius. The task was further made near impossible by the strict orders that Indian Armed Forces were not to not cross the LOC while recapturing Indian territory from unauthorised occupation of Pakistan army”.
“Under “ Operation Vijay ”, Indian Armed Forces rose to the occasion, with impeccable coordination between Indian Army and Indian Air Force, and attacked the hills facing volleys of bullets from enemy and drove out the Pakistan army from the Indian territory. Indian Navy successfully blocked the sea routes in Arabian Sea, thus depriving Pakistan of all supplies during these operations. As grim battles raged across a 160-km stretch of treacherous ridges and peaks that comprises the Kargilsector, it was in Batalik that the Army faced its toughest challenge. This war was an example of great valour, comradeship, sacrifices and leadership on the part of Indian Armed Forces.
“Indian casualties were : Killed – 518 ( Officers – 20, Jcos – 23, Jawans – 475 ); Wounded- 1,211 ( Officers – 66, Jcos – 60,Jawans – 1,085 ); Pakistani casualties were : Killed- 453, Wounded- 665, POW -8. Gallantry medals were awarded to armed Forces Personnel for their extreme bravery and devotion in the face of enemy. Paramvir Chakra – 4 ( 3 posthumous ) Lt Manoj Kumar Pandey, 1/11 Gorkha Rifles; Capt Vikram Batra, 13 Jammu & Kashmir Rifles; Rfn Sanjay Kumar, 13 Jammu& Kashmir Rifles; Gnrd Yogendra Singh Yadav, 18 Grenadiers ( alive)Mahavir Chakra-9, Vir Chakra -55. These brave men had promised their families that they would soon return from the War and they kept their word. They went to the battlefield as valiant soldiers carrying the flag, and came back as HEROES draped in National Flag. Think of their sacrifices – They gave their TODAY for our TOMORROW.”
“The Defense Forces of India are the most patriotic forces in the world. They have always proved their worth during external and internal threats. They are the most dependable and strongest pillars of our democracy.”