NEW DELHI: Two months after it began, Operation Vijay practically ended on Sunday. While the status quo ante of the Line of Control (LoC) has been restored in Drass, Kaksar and Batalik sub-sectors, the Army said the same would be established in the Mushkoh Valley by Monday morning.
"The information we have received through our surveillance units is that Pakistani soldiers have withdrawn from the Mushkoh valley also. No activity of the enemy was reported there either yesterday (Saturday) or today (Sunday)," Army spokesman Col. Bikram Singh said. However, "there is no ceasefire or cessation of action," he added.
Forward movement of the Army to occupy dominating heights along the LoC in the Mushkoh valley is "slow and deliberate" owing to the large number of anti-personnel mines (APMs) laid by retreating Pakistani soldiers. A soldier lost his foot when he accidentally stepped on an APM, taking the Army's total number of casualties to 1,010. The break-up comprises 410 soldiers including 25 officers killed, 594 soldiers including 35 officers wounded, and four soldiers missing-in-action. "The Pakistanis have denied that they have the four missing soldiers. We will mount a search after we reach the LoC in the Mushkoh valley," Col. Bikram Singh said.
He said the enemy had completely pulled out from Batalik, Kaksar and Drass sub-sectors and Point 5060 in Drass was occupied at 6 p.m. on Saturday. "Presently, our troops are in the process of physically verifying all areas so that no enemy remnants are there anywhere along the LoC," the spokesman said.
In the Mushkoh valley, three loud explosions were reported at Point 4388, close to the LoC. "It is inferred that the enemy has probably destroyed some heavy equipment before withdrawing. The exact details of the equipment destroyed will be known only after we have physically combed the area," he said.
Significantly, he asserted that the Army will not be withdrawing forces from certain key snow-covered heights in the Kargil sector even during winter. "We are not going to withdraw our forces. We will wait and watch the situation....We are thinking in terms of holding certain positions in winter too," Col. Bikram Singh said.
Declining to comment on national security advisor Brajesh Mishra's announcement that there would be a probe into the Kargil affair, Col. Bikram Singh said it would take the Army some time to carry out an analysis and come up with the lessons learnt. But he said "the troops were happy" and went on to describe Operation Vijay as a "grand victory".
Commenting on the lessons learnt, Air Force spokesman Group Captain D.N. Ganesh said the operation had taken place in an environment that was totally new in the history of world military aviation. "We have been receiving congratulatory emails from all over the world, also expressing surprise on how we managed with what we had," he said. "We had to unlearn what we had learnt as we were operating with a new set of paradigms such as ballistic trajectory of weapons in high altitude operations," he added.
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