It was not a full-scale war but it threatened to snow-ball into one. It was hard to imagine Pakistan’s nefarious designs at a time when shunning traditional animosity India moved into top gear to redefine its relationship with its neighbor.
The then Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took a bus of hope to Lahore, to infuse an extra coat of warmth into a cold Indo-Pak ties. Lahore Bus had barely covered lost ground when Pakistan pulled the rug from under India’s feet.
Before it sunk in, Pakistan had already occupied strategic heights in the Kargil sector in Jammu and Kashmir taking advantage of the winter snow when troops on either side of the LoC climb down only to reclaim their positions once the snow melts. But in the summer of 1999 as Indian troops went back to claim their positions, they were in for a rude shock.
The enemies had infiltrated into the Indian side of the LoC. Armed Pakistani infiltrators and army men had been lying in wait to attack the Indian troops. It was clear Pakistan had rejected India’s hand of friendship. India retaliated. After initial losses, Indian troops gradually gained upper hand. The battle to reclaim Tiger Hill proved decisive.
Pakistan had to eat humble pie. The eight-week long conflict ended in a tame withdrawal by the Pakistani forces. As a correspondent for a major news network I covered the war in the Drass and Batalik sectors of Kargil which had turned into a war zone.
In the midst of roaring Bofors guns and retaliatory fire from across the border, I often found myself caught in the line of fire but miraculously survived to bring you this story when the Indian Army flew the Tiranga again on Tiger Hill.