Like every other year along the Line of Control, the Indian army had vacated the mountain peaks before winter. So did Pakistan as it was part of an understanding due to the unwelcoming weather. But the Pakistani military had other plans, it had wanted to occupy the peaks on the other side of the border in Kargil in the winter of 1999.
In a matter of days, this operation turned into a war that no one expected. Pakistan army wanted to block the road that connected Srinagar to Leh, disconnecting Ladakh and Siachen from the mainland, a step that the Indian army never expected. The war, however, lasted three months.
It cost 500 hundred soldier's lives to India in an operation named Vijay. The number on the Pakistan side is between 400 to 4,000 and the name given to the operation was Al-Badr.
When called for talks, the Indian government put down the Pakistan proposal and asked for an immediate evacuation of Pakistan-back intruders from Kargil, a tough condition for dialogue. Pakistan categorically rejected any involvement in the infiltration, adding they were Kashmiri militants fighting Indian occupation.
Pakistan initially refused to acknowledge their involvement in the intrusion, but finally, they had to accept it. The war ended up with India successfully pushing back Pakistan.
On the Tiger Hill, the Indian army buried 30 Pakistan army personnel. One of them was Captain Karnal Sher Khan. An Indian brigadier was very touched by the bravery of Sher khan. As Captain Sher was killed in action, before sending the body to the Delhi, brigadier M.P.S Bajwa had urged his general commanding officer to write an appreciative letter in the citation of the bravery he showed in the field. He even put a praising note in his pocket which eventually led to getting him the highest gallantry award Nishan-e-Haider.
More than a hundred thousand people were displaced from Kargil, Leh and Jammu. About 20,000 people left their villages and only 30% of them returned. A 33 year old Zainab told BBC that when her village Ganokh was caught in the line of fire, her family headed to Skardu and then Islamabad. Thousands of civilians lost their homes, cattle, and other belongings on both sides of the LoC.
But the Indian side was able to return to their homes. On Pakistan's side, the war victims are wandering in search for a permanent shelter. Zainab’s family managed to find a hut in a slum located in Islamabad. “This is mainly due to the absence of any government-led rehabilitation program, or because their lands have been taken over by the army,” according to Wazir Farman a member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.