Kargil War: Meet the shepherd who warned the Army

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Kargil War: Meet the shepherd who warned the Army

Tashi Namgyal, a local shepherd, was looking for his missing yak when he saw the Pakistani intruders.

There was peace in the air. The Lahore Declaration had been signed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on February 21, 1999. Vajpayee's Lahore bus yatra had stirred hopes of bonhomie between two distrustful neighbours.

All this crumbled to dust when in May 1999 Pakistan Army regulars, disguised as Kashmiris, crossed the Line of Control (LoC).

The Pakistani infiltration in the Kargil sector was first reported by Tashi Namgyal, a local shepherd.

Tashi Namgyal, now 56, lives in a small village called Gharkon near Batalik town some 60 km from Kargil town of Ladakh region. Tashi Namgyal recalled how he spotted the Pakistani infiltrators on May 3, 1999.

"On the morning of May 3, I had moved up with one of my friends some 5 km along Jubbar Langpa stream in search of my missing yak. I was scanning the mountainside through a pair of binoculars. And then I saw groups of men in Pathan attire and camouflaged Pakistani soldiers digging bunkers. Some of them were armed, however, it was not possible for me to ascertain their numbers. But one thing I was sure -- they had come from the other side of the LoC."

"I came down and promptly informed the nearest post of the Indian Army. My information alerted Indian army and they cross-checked and found that my information about the intrusion of Pakistani soldiers was correct," Namgyal said.

What looked like an innocuous intrusion at first turned to be a full-fledged military operation of the Pakistani Army. The Kargil War ended on July 26, 1999 with India victorious. The Indian operation was called Operation Vijay.