A grateful nation on Thursday paid rich tributes to the martyrs of armed forces on the occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony said: “Not only for the forces, it is a historic day for the country as a whole. Today, we are paying homage to the sacrifices made by our jawans and officers to protect the honour of the country.”

Referring to demands by the armed forces for a war memorial in the national capital, Mr. Antony said progress was being made on the proposal.

He told reporters on the sidelines of the function held to pay homage to the martyrs that he would be going on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir this weekend and tour several forward areas there.

Mr. Antony will meet Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and preside over a meeting of the Unified Headquarters in Srinagar.

He will be accompanied by Army Chief General Bikram Singh and Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma. The main function on the day was held in Drass sub-sector in Ladakh region. Senior Army officers, war veterans and wives of soldiers who were killed in the 1999 conflict offered floral tributes at the war memorial to mark the 13th anniversary of India’s victory.

Wreaths were laid by General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Northern Command Lt. Gen. K.T. Parnaik, General Officer Commanding of Ladakh-based 14 Corps Lt. Gen. Rajan Bakshi and GOC 8 Mountain Division Maj. Gen. Raymond Noronha.

The war to flush out well-armed and stocked Pakistani intruders began in May 1999 and lasted for more than two months. The counter-offensive on the icy heights of Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir resulted in India taking back all the positions that had been occupied by the Pakistani intruders and army men.

India lost nearly 500 soldiers and officers and Pakistan more than 700 men. Kargil Vijay Diwas has been named after the success of Operation Vijay.

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