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Kargil Diwas: How India Won One Of Its Finest Victories Against Pakistan

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The Lahore declaration signalled a major breakthrough in overcoming the historically strained bilateral relations between India and Pakistan. However, the relations soon lost impetus with the outbreak of the controversial Kargil debacle in the year 1999. Pakistan kept waiting for the right time to sneak into our borders, with an intention of capturing strategic locations in the Ladakh region.

In the guise of Kashmiri Militants, trained Pakistani army troops infiltrated the Line of Control and captured the dominating heights in the Kargil area, overlooking National Highway 1, the nerve artery for the Indian forces deployed in the region. From their posts high up in the cold and barren hills, Pakistani soldiers enjoyed all the advantages of a strong fortress.

The Pakistan, however, could not reckon the ferocity with which the Indian infantry men would attack them. The gunners fired till their barrels were red hot, the pilots took great risk to blast the enemy strongholds, and the supporting arms and services extended themselves well beyond their limits to provide soldiers the necessary support. Displaying unshakeable determination and unparalleled collective valour, our soldiers gave the Indian Army and the nation one of the finest victories ever in military history, and the enemy received a befitting reply.

The Battle of Tololing was a stepping stone to recapturing the posts captured by Pakistani troops. Changing the course of the Kargil war in India’s favour, Tololing was of great significance during Operation Vijay. Overlooking Drass, Tololing is the highest feature from where the enemy could cut the supply route to Kargil by blocking National Highway 1 Alpha. In the bloody battle that ensued from May 20, 1999, the gallant soldiers of the 18 Grenadiers continued their forward march in the face of heavy shelling and enemy fire, with only victory on their mind. It was in this grave battle that Major Rajesh Adhikari displayed exemplary courage in single-handedly attacking the bunkers, fighting close combats, and eventually, laying down his life so that his men could move forward to raise the Indian flag at the top of Tololing. For this gallant act of his, Major Rajesh Adhikari was awarded India’s second-highest gallantry award Maha Veer Chakra posthumously.

Jubar Top, an operationally significant post, was snatched back from the grip of the rival in the wee hours of July 3, 1999 by the First battalion, 11 Gorkha Rifles, led by Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey, who, unmindful of his personal safety, charged at the adversary ahead of his troops facing a hail of bullets. Incurring grievous wounds, Captain Pandey rushed from bunker to bunker urging his men on. Inspired by their leader’s spontaneous valour, the troops charged at the enemy and fell upon them. Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey displayed rare bravery and leadership in the face of danger. For this heroic act in the war zone, Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra.

Source: The Indian Express

Subsequent realization of the magnitude of the intrusion and the discovery of Pakistan army regulars led to the need for a more comprehensive and coordinated action. Thirteenth Battalion, the Jammu and Kashmir rifles, led by the then Commanding Officer Col Y. K. Joshi was tasked to capture the strategic Point 4875.

‘Sher Shah’, India’s lion heart, Captain Vikram Batra, with the stealth and agility of a snow leopard, struck terror in the heart of the enemy, recapturing one post after the other, fighting fearlessly against all odds. Captain Batra and his Delta Company were tasked with the recapturing of Point 5140. To stupefy the enemy, Captain Batra, along with five of his men, attacked from the rear and after reaching the top, hurled two grenades at the machine gun post recovering a heavy machine gun and killing at least 8 Pakistani soldiers. In spite of the grievous injuries, Captain Batra continued fighting and led his team to capture Point 5140 at 0300 hours on June 20, 1999. Later, Captain Batra led his men to even more glorious victories with the recapture of Point 4750 and Point 4875.

Unfortunately, the brave son of India was martyred while saving a fallen comrade during an encounter on Point 4875 in the early morning hours of July 7, 1999. His last words were “Jai Mata Di.” For his sustained display of the most conspicuous personal bravery and junior leadership of the highest order in the face of the enemy, Captain Vikram Batra was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest medal for gallantry.

Two months of intense fighting in these barren heights reduced down to occasional fire as the then Pakistan Prime Minister asked his troops to withdraw, leaving behind a large number of dead bodies of Pakistani soldiers. True to the traditions of Indian Army and as a mark of respect to a brave soldier who laid his life in the battlefield, the Pakistani soldiers were given a respectful burial.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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