Defence Minister Rajnath Singh paid tributes at the National War Memorial in New Delhi on Sunday on the occasion of the 21st anniversary of the country's victory over Pakistan in the Kargil war.
President Ram Nath Kovind said that the country is forever grateful to soldiers who laid down their lives during the Kargil war to defend 'Bharat Mata'.
Taking to Twitter to pay tributes to the slain soldiers on the 21st anniversary of India's victory over Pakistan in the war, he said 'Kargil Vijay Diwas' is a symbol of fearless determination and exceptional valour of our armed forces.
'Kargil Vijay Diwas is symbol of fearless determination and exceptional valour of our armed forces. I salute the soldiers who fought the enemy and laid down their life to defend Bharat Mata.
'The nation is forever grateful to them and their families,' said Kovind, who is also the supreme commander of the armed forces.
On July 26, 1999, the Indian Army had announced the successful culmination of 'Operation Vijay', declaring victory after the nearly three-month-long battles in the icy heights of Kargil.
The country lost more than 500 soldiers in the war.
"I congratulate all Indian citizens on the occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas. The sacrifices made by soldiers, which helped us win the Kargil war, will always be a source of inspiration for the armed forces," Singh told reporters after paying the tributes.
Along with the defence minister, Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Army Chief General M M Naravane, Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria and Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh also paid tributes at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at the National War Memorial.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the country is proud of the heroes who are dedicated to protecting it and who drove away the enemy from the arduous hills of Kargil.
'I bow to the bravehearts, who, with their indomitable courage, drove the enemy from the difficult hills of Kargil and waved the tricolour there again. The country is proud of the heroes of India who are dedicated to protecting the motherland,' he said in a tweet in Hindi.
Later during the day, Rajnath Singh said on Twitter that Kargil Vijay Diwas is a celebration of courage and valour of the Indian armed forces who fought the enemy under the most challenging conditions that the world had witnessed in the recent history.
"Kargil is not only a symbol of national pride but also a big step that was taken against injustice. I would like to mention the views of the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on national security. He said we have proved we will not bow down in front of any external pressures," Singh mentioned.
"He (Vajpayee) said we have also proved we are a responsible country. Whatever steps we take with respect to national security, it is always in self-defense and not to attack anyone. If an enemy attacks our country, then we have proven we will give it a response as shown in Kargil. Friends, this sentiment today is as strong as it was 21 years ago," he added.
The minister said India is a peace loving country and at a time of crisis, we are ready to take any big step that is required to defend its national unity and sovereignty.
Singh said he recently got the opportunity to visit Leh, Ladakh and pay my respects to these brave men.
"I observed that despite the unfavourable and tough conditions, our brave soldiers had kept their patience and gave befitting reply to the enemies," the minister said.
Before this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also visited Ladakh and he had a lively interaction with brave soldiers posted there, he stated.
On this day, we urge the countrymen to follow the same principles of duty and integrity like our soldiers, the minister noted.
"If our soldiers are keeping this country safe at the borders, then it is our responsibility for the unity, diversity and brotherhood of our country.
"If we maintain peace and brotherhood among ourselves and we keep moving forward on this path of development, then this would be the biggest tribute to our brave soldiers," he said.
The Kargil war was declared over on July 26, 1999, after Indian soldiers pushed back the Pakistani troops, a bulk of them drawn from the neighbouring country's Northern Light Infantry, from the captured peaks.
The day is observed as 'Kargil Vijay Diwas' to commemorate India's victory in the war.
On Sunday, the Indian Army posted the following message from the Army Chief on Twitter, 'On the solemn occasion of the 21st Kargil Vijay Diwas, we salute and pay homage to the Courage, Valour and Sacrifice of our fallen Heroes. We also pledge to rededicate ourselves to uphold the highest traditions in service of the Nation.'