Counsellor (Press, Information & Culture)
Embassy of India, Washington, DC
Following is the text of the statement issued by the Indian
Defense Ministry on the air operations to flush out infiltrators in Kargil sector
May 26, 1999
Early this morning the Indian Air Force took armed air action against Pak-aided militants, who had infiltrated into our side of the LoC, in general areas of Drass-Kargil-Batalik. This action was forced upon India because the infiltrators are in considerable strength and consist of a large number of well trained mercenaries. They are not only supported directly by the Pakistan army, but Pak Army regulars are believed to be participating along with them. The infiltrators have taken positions of advantage on very high ridges, which are difficult to neutralize by ground action alone. In joint operations, the army is closing in to clear the positions engaged by the Air Force today.
The air action has been taken on account of the following:
(a) If not contained at this stage, Pakistan would have been encouraged to extend its operations further. Delayed reaction would have called for a more severe action, possibly increasing the areas as well the scope of Operations.
(b) If the infiltration is not arrested and the infiltrators are not evicted, the alignment of the LoC could well be altered to our disadvantage.
(c) The security of our vital ground line of communication from Srinagar to Leh, via Kargil would be under threat.
(d) If militants continued to hold the heights, infiltration in this area would increase.
The Indian Defense Forces have been directed to take action, as deemed necessary, on own side of LoC. Should there be any direct or indirect interference in our Operations by Pakistan Army or PAF, the Indian Defense forces have been authorized to take appropriate action.
It would be in the interest of Pakistan to not only stop aiding the militants by its agencies but actually ensure their withdrawal and bring the ground position to status quo ante.
Both fighters and helicopters took part in the operations. Earlier an IAF aircraft within its own air space was attacked in spite of prior notice to Pakistan authorities as per the agreement. Due to this we had to use our fighter aircraft also to provide us the freedom of operating within our own air space without any outside interference.
This is the start of Operations and they would continue till our Defense Forces reoccupy our territory. Any escalation of this conflict will be entirely the responsibility of Pakistan.