India Changes Course: Golden Jubilee to Millennium

By Paul R. Dettman | Go to book overview

12

Kargil “War” Operations

While the April political drama was being played out in Delhi, a mixed force of almost 1,000 Pakistani and Afghan Mujahideen (freedom fighters) and Pakistani army troops were infiltrating Indian territory in three sectors along a 150 kilometer stretch of the Kashmir Line of Control (LOC) in Kargil District. The infiltrators were establishing and supplying a large number of fortified posts and bunkers 6-7 kilometers inside Indian-held territory. Since the terrain in these areas consisted of mountains that rise 16,000 to 18,000 feet and since there were no roads leading to the high ridges that the Pakistani force occupied, planning for this invasion must have begun well before the February meeting between the Pakistani and Indian prime ministers at Lahore. The movement of ammunition, equipment and supplies by mules and on the backs of the infiltrators must have taken place during the two months that had followed the issuing of the Lahore Declaration.

It was only during the first week of May that Kashmiri shepherds encountered a contingent of the Pakistani force and reported their presence to the Indian army's command post in Kargil. Thinking that the intruders were no more than a patrol that the Pakistani army had sent in to reconnoiter the Indian side of the LOC, an Indian patrol was sent to investigate. Its members made contact with the Pakistani contingent, were met with a hail of gunfire, and were killed to a man. When the Kargil command post learned that the patrol had been wiped out, the Indian army realized that the intruders were more than a handful of Pakistani scouts and that it had something more than a routine military problem on its hands. As subsequent events unfolded, it became clear that the shots fired at the Indian army patrol were the first shots fired in a Kargil “war” which would last for the next two and a half months.

Pakistan embarked upon this invasion of Indian-held territory in Kashmir, at the very time that its prime minister would be meeting with India's prime minister

-107-

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