War should never be celebrated. It arises from the deep-rooted animosity between powerful individuals, resulting in the tragic loss of thousands of soldiers’ lives, inconsolable grief for their families, and widespread fear. These brave soldiers sacrifice themselves out of love for their countrymen and the duty to protect our borders from external threats, only to be glorified by war-mongers who romanticize the destructive nature of conflicts.
One notable example is the Kargil War of 1999, a conflict between India and Pakistan along the Line of Control. Despite India’s victory in the war, the cost in terms of lives was immeasurable. It is crucial to recognize the valor and resilience of our soldiers while also understanding the underlying politics that led to such confrontations. In this context, there are books available that pay homage to these courageous soldiers and shed light on the complex political dimensions of warfare. Take the opportunity to delve into these insightful reads!
As we celebrate the Kargil Vijay Diwas today (July 26, 2023), we share a list of 9 Must Read Books about Kargil War.
1. Kargil: Untold Stories from the War by Rachna Bisht Rawat
In a mystifying convergence of events, stranded paratroopers find themselves calling for Bofors’ fire upon their own position, while an aged man in Palampur passionately fights for justice for his deceased soldier son, and a martyr’s father makes an annual pilgrimage to visit a young Kashmiri girl. Journey into the treacherous mountains of Kargil, where the Indian Army witnessed some of its bloodiest battles. Rachna Bisht Rawat’s account weaves stories of extraordinary human courage, not just of men in uniform, but also of those who loved them most. Through poignant interviews with war survivors and martyrs’ families, the book stands as a tribute to the 527 young heroes who sacrificed their lives for us, and the countless others who were ready to do the same, with gritty narratives of incomparable bravery.
2. Vijyant at Kargil: The Biography of a War Hero by Col. V.N. Thapar and Neha Dwivedi
‘By the time you get this letter, I’ll be observing you all from the sky. I have no regrets, in fact even if I become a human again, I’ll join the army and fight for my nation.’ Captain Vijyant Thapar’s last words to his family before he was martyred in the Kargil War at twenty-two, having shown bravery in the battles of Tololing and Knoll. A scion of army officers, his dream of service began as a young boy. This biography, narrated by his father and Neha Dwivedi, a martyr’s daughter, brings forth anecdotes from family and friends, revealing the extraordinary man Vijyant was. His legacy lives on through cherished memories and unwavering dedication to his country. Book review here.
3. Kargil War: From Surprise to Victory by General V. P. Malik
In the frigid February of 1999, disguised as jihadi militants, Pakistani Army personnel infiltrated the rugged heights of Kargil, triggering a limited war between the world’s newest nuclear powers. General V. P. Malik’s incisive book analyzes the enemy’s tactics, India’s defense preparedness, and the crucial lessons learned. Beyond strategy, Kargil remains a poignant reminder of unparalleled heroism displayed during those grim weeks—a timeless benchmark for valor amid adversity.
4. Despatches From Kargil by Srinjoy Chowdhury
The summer of 1999 saw the Kargil war, a tale of brutality and courage, where icy peaks held by a formidable enemy demanded relentless climbing amidst the overwhelming fire. Heroes like Saurav Kalia, Vijayant Thapar, Yogendra Singh Yadav, Mariappan Sarvanan, and Vikram Batra emerged, their valor becoming legendary. Srinjoy Chowdhury’s “Despatches from Kargil” narrates journalists’ battles against time, shellfire, and bedbugs to report the war’s reality. With vivid accounts of major assaults and poignant portrayals of soldiers and officers, the reportage remains profoundly moving, capturing the essence of war. Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav’s firsthand account reflects the intense struggle, crawling despite being wounded multiple times, driven by the weight of responsibility to protect his platoon commander and fulfill his duty.
5. Trishul, Ladakh and Kargil by Brigadier (retd) Ashok Malhotra
The individual in question served at the 3 Infantry Division’s headquarters during a harrowing war. Through their unique perspective, they provide a glimpse into the battles fought and the tremendous hardships endured by the brave soldiers.
6. The Kargil War by Praveen Swami
In the blistering summer of 1999, India repelled Pakistan’s intrusion in Kargil, but peace eluded both sides after the war due to escalating tensions following the Pokhran nuclear tests of May 1998. The origins of the Kargil conflict raise crucial questions about ignored warnings, military triumph, and political realities. Unraveling the links between Pokhran and the war sheds light on geopolitical complexities. The involvement of the United States as a mediator adds intrigue. This revised edition by journalist Praveen Swami examines post-Kargil militancy in Kashmir, the Kargil Review Committee’s report, and proposals for Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy, revealing the war’s lasting implications on India’s political landscape.
7. The Brave by Rachna Bisht Rawat
In this captivating collection, Rachna Bisht Rawat delves into the depths of India’s military history to recount the extraordinary feats that led to the awarding of the country’s highest military honor. Rawat presents twenty-one riveting narratives that bring to life the courageous stories of India’s bravest soldiers. Through heartfelt conversations with their families, including parents, siblings, and children, as well as their fellow soldiers, she skillfully portrays the essence of these remarkable individuals and their unwavering valor on the battlefield. With unparalleled access to the Indian Army, Rawat has crafted an unparalleled masterpiece that stands as the definitive account of the Param Vir Chakra.
8. Tiger of Drass: Capt. Anuj Nayyar, 23, Kargil Hero by Meena Nayyar and Himmat Singh Shekhawat
In May 1999, the Kargil insurgency was underestimated, but it soon became clear that infiltrators had gained an upper hand, capturing high-altitude posts abandoned by Indian soldiers. In the intense battle that followed, Captain Anuj Nayyar and his 17 Jat men fought relentlessly, securing a critical peak crucial to Operation Vijay’s success and India’s victory in Kargil. Tragically, Captain Nayyar sacrificed his life while neutralizing enemies with a rocket-propelled grenade, saving fifteen men. For his exceptional leadership and selflessness, he was posthumously awarded India’s second-highest gallantry award, the Maha Vir Chakra, in 2000.
9. The Kargil Girl: An Autobiography by Flt Lt Gunjan Saxena (retd) with Kiran Nirvan
In 1994, twenty-year-old Gunjan Saxena joins the selection process for the women’s pilot course. After intense training, she becomes Pilot Officer Gunjan Saxena. In 1999, during the Kargil conflict, she proves her mettle as ‘The Kargil Girl,’ fearlessly taking on crucial missions, including airdropping supplies and evacuating casualties. Her inspiring story showcases her courage and dedication.
Which of these books about Kargil War would you like to read? Share with us in the comments section below!