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Kargil: Vajpayee turned a strategic loss to massive victory

By Anuj Cariappa

New Delhi, June 29: During the Kargil conflict, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was reluctant to use the Air Force and refused to give it permission to cross the Line of Control, former Air chief Anil Tipnis said on Friday.

Speaking at the launch of a book titled 'A Prime Minister to remember: Memories of a military chief', penned by former Navy chief Sushil Kumar, Tipnis recalled a meeting he and the then Army chief Ved Malik had with Vajpayee during the 1999 Kargil fighting.

File photo of Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Tipnis said Vajpayee wanted to know from General Malik if the ground forces could do without the use of Air Force.

"Even before Ved Malik could respond, I chipped in saying the Army needs it and we are ready. The Prime Minister was pensive for a few moments and then said 'kal subah shuruwat kariyega (begin tomorrow morning)," Tipnis said.

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He also spoke about asking for Vajpayee's permission to cross the LoC.

"In a voice firmer than I had ever heard ... (Vajpayee said) 'No, we will not cross the Line of Control'," Tipnis said.

He said the Air Force was ready to join the Army in the operation at a short notice of six hours.

Admiral (Retd.) Sushil Kumar, who was Navy chief at the time of Kargil conflict, said Vajpayee turned a "strategic loss" to a massive victory.

Kargil Vijay Diwas: The rats are here, throw them out said the Indian Army

Lt General (Retd.) Chandra Shekhar, who served as vice chief of Army, also lauded Vajpayee's role during the Kargil conflict.

"The Kargil war demonstrated the Indian resolve and the close synergy among the three services," he added.

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