Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday visited the Kargil war memorial in Jammu and Kashmir and paid tributes to Indian soldiers killed during the Kargil war. Mr Singh is visiting Kargil as the Indian army celebrates the 20th anniversary of Operation Vijay, during which it successfully fought against the intrusion of militias as well as regular troops of Pakistan in Kargil sector in 1999.

During his day-long visit, the minister will also dedicate to the nation two bridges built by the Border Roads Organisation at Ujh in Kathua district and Basantar in Samba district. The Ujh bridge is one kilometre-long and the Basantar bridge is 617.4 metres, officials said.

In 1999, Indian troops overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, hostile terrain, weather, and successfully recaptured several mountain tops overlooking the strategic Srinagar-Leh highway from Pakistani intruders.

To commemorate India’s victory, a ”Victory Flame” was lit by Rajnath Singh on July 14 at the National War Memorial in Delhi. The flame will traverse through nine towns and cities before reaching Drass on July 26. It will then be merged with the eternal flame at the Kargil War Memorial.

The event is being celebrated in a grand manner by the Indian Army with a view to rekindling the pride and valour of all the soldiers who took part in Operation Vijay. The 20th anniversary of “Operation Vijay” will be celebrated with the theme ‘Remember, Rejoice and Renew’ and troops from three battalions will undertake expeditions to the peaks where their units had fought under impossible conditions to drive out the intruders, the Army said in a statement.

To mark “Kargil Vijay Diwas”, the ITBP and the BSF, who guard the border, have launched a special series of programmes that will showcase the tales of bravery of soldiers as well as police and paramilitary personnel.

These forces will hold cultural events, honour family members of those army troops who were killed during “Operation Vijay”, organise blood donation and health checkup camps, hold motivational lectures and conduct educational tour of the Kargil area for school children, news agency PTI reported quoting a senior official. “The central armed police forces that guard the borders will felicitate Kargil war heros” families and celebrate ”Kargil Vijay Diwas” with army field formations,” Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) spokesperson Vivek Pandey said.

The task force will also organise special shows to run a seven-minute movie prepared by the Defence Ministry on the victory in Kargil. Photo galleries will also be setup to tell about the bravery of those who laid down their lives in the line of duty, Mr Pandey said.