Notably, the civilians did not fight with weapons, but their role was as important as that of an Indian soldier

Victory is assured when the civilians join hands with the army. The Kargil victory was possible not only because of the brave soldiers, the civilians, too, played a major role in throwing out the intruders.

In the Kargil war, the Indian Army gave a befitting reply to Pakistan, whose army breached the Line of Control and attacked the Drass Valley of the Kargil district 23 years ago. The story of the bravery of the Indian army is known to every citizen, but very few are aware of how civilians joined hands with the army in fighting the battle. And, if these civilians are called civil soldiers, it wouldn't be wrong.

Notably, the civilians did not fight with weapons, but their role was as important as that of an Indian soldier.

Located right below Tiger Hill, around 8 kilometres from the Drass valley is another valley called Mashku Valley. And, in this small hamlet lives Yaar Mohammad Khan.

Yar Mohammad Khan, 65, was the first person who witnessed and saw the intruders from Pakistan in Drass valley. He directly went to the Indian Army base and apprised them of the presence of Pakistani Army men in the area.

He had found two packs of cigarettes, which were made in Pakistan, and he took these to show to the commanding officer of the Indian Army.

On May 8, 1999, Khan informed the Indian Army about the presence of the Pakistani army men; and, on May 13, the Pakistan Army launched the attack at various points.

Khan, along with the eight Sikh Regiment soldiers and 18 Grenadier Regiment of the Indian Army went to conquer Tiger Hill and Batra Top. Khan not only worked as a guide to the Indian army in the tough terrain but also helped them to transport arms and ammunition on horses at night. He was with the Indian army when both the peaks were re-captured.

“I was working as a porter and when I was crossing the area, I found two packs of cigarettes which were made in Pakistan. I directly went to the Indian Army’s commanding officer and asked him to check. He told me that he will take a team with him. He believed me when he saw those cigarette packets. I had informed on May 8 and on May 13 Pakistani Army started firing. The war started in the Tololing area. I was with 8 Sikh Regiment soldiers and 18 Grenadier Regiment on Tiger Hill, they started firing after that it was 18 grenadiers.” said Yaar Mohammad Khan.

At that time there were hardly any civilians in the area, but Yaar Mohammad Khan didn’t leave and provided all the help to the Indian army.

“There was not a single person in the area. I didn’t leave but I let my family go. I went to Tiger and Batra Hills with the army. I brought 350 horses from the Amarnath Yatra. We are Indians and will always be. I am from these mountains and I was making sure they receive all the support.” added Khan.

At the start of the Kargil war, everyone in Drass valley was leaving. The place was occupied by the Indian Army soldiers and the journalists working in the area. But there was one person who never left Drass valley despite all the shelling. That is Naseem Ahmad, who was running a small tea stall outside the premises of Drass Police station.

Naseem never shut the tea stall and made sure that every Indian army soldier crossing the area had tea at the stall. While the area was being bombarded with bombs and bullets, Naseem chose to stay put and serve the soldiers of his country.

“ During the war, it was only journalists, the Indian Army and me. I was a little scared, but the army men needed our help also. I used to make food for the soldiers. It was an extremely bad situation. The shelling was so bad that the ground used to shake a lot. I had a narrow escape in one of the shelling incidents. I am proud of the fact that I was able to provide food to our soldiers," said Naseem Ahmad, a tea stall owner.

Apart from these two 'civilian soldiers', dozens of youth played a key role in the war in their own way to help the Indian Army to re-take the peaks that were captured by the enemy army.