A recent book by Sandeep Mukherjee titled 'The reality of 1962 Military Defeat' blames the Indian Army for 1962 debacle. It is based on unfounded evidences and flawed logic. Though military can be fractionally blamed but major fault lay somewhere else. Henderson Brooks Report (HBR) is intensively quoted by everyone to blame Army but no one talks of HIMALYAN BLUNDER by Brig JP Dalvi , which brings out awful facts under which our soldiers fought. In any case HBR was an in- house inquiry by army — it had no manifest on Politico-Bureaucratic and Intelligence aspects which mainly contributed to this fiasco. Unfortunately, secrecy about HBR has been cleverly used to deflect the blame from Politico- Bureaucratic - Intelligence setup of the time.
I am of the view that India needs, once and for all, a TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION on the 1962 war to know exactly as to what went wrong at Political, Military, Intelligence, and Bureaucratic levels. I am convinced that major fault lay at Political level, followed by Intelligence and Bureaucratic level, in that order.
Military did what it could with what it had — its best fighting skills under all odds . The major blame of Military goes to its Generalship who made faulty plans , did not press govt for necessary wherewithal to execute 'Forward Policy'. The worst was when its leadership panicked - Corps Commander (Lt Gen BM Kaul) got hospitalised and Division Commander (Maj Gen Niranjan Prasad) left their Headquarters unannounced. Thus its Leadership had fumbled but men made the ultimate sacrifice.
HBR does not answer all these issues. It only speculates, because it had no mandate to go into, Political, Intelligence and Bureaucratic angles. It was an incomplete inquiry and it served the purpose of other three culprits because it had immunised them. To keep the suspense going, Govt had cleverly put HBR under Lock and Key and never to divulge the real culprits.
Let us see political events leading to the war.
a) Tibet would have been a buffer state between India and China, why did Indian Govt ( Nehru) accept Chinese lordship over it ? It is clearly reflected in Nehru’s love for Communist China.
b) To substantiate above, one needs to know as to why did Nehru tell his British Army Chief in 1947: WE HAVE NO ENEMY — WE DO NOT NEED ARMY. And he made no efforts to upgrade army.
c) Even after 1955, when China started constructing G 219 ( Tibet Highway) —no effort was made to strengthen army. Instead, JEEP SCANDAL OF 1954 was first corruption case facing army — who was stuffed with ' Sifarshi Generals'. Read pages 503 to 510 of Jairam Ramesh Book ' VK Krishna Menon - a chequered Brilliance' to know how Gen BM Kaul and Gen PN Thapar and even Gen JN Chaudhry manipulated to gain favours.
d) Basic thing is, if India (read Nehru), had claims on Aksai Chin — why , it did not make an effort to occupy XAIDULLA FORT in 1947-48 ? Worse was, not to allow SKARDU garrison in Gilgit - Balitistan ( G-B) to be reinforced — which was being held by J& K state forces, under Lt Col Sher Jung Thapa till April 1948. If it was with India, it would have facilitated occupation of Xaidullah Fort and thus prevented Chinese construction of G 219.
e) Aksai Chin was only part of British India as per WH Jonathan Line of 1865 . However Britain had later withdrawn it to McCartney - McDonald line of 1899 , which ran along Laktang Ridge. This line had excluded Aksai Chin. Therefore, where was the scope for India to claim AksaiChin, when it had already accepted Tibet as Chinese Territory.
f) However rising stature of Nehru in the Non-allignment Movement from 1954, also gave rise to his international ambitions . Thus, in 1960, when Chou En Lai, Chinese Premier visited India and offered NEFA for Aksai Chin, Nehru refused to accept it . This sowed the seeds of Chinese animosity. No wonder, former US Secretary of State , Henry Kissinger quotes, then Chinese strongman, Mao De Zhong to say “TEACH A LESSON TO NEHRU” to cut him to size. Therefore, 1962 war was Mao’s attempt to not only cut Nehru to size but punish him for betrayal on Chinese occupation of Tibet.
Therefore, 1962 debacle was a result of clear cut political confusion which existed in India. What more, India’s Intelligence agency did not smell of Chinese intentions. In Fact, BN Mulluck, IB Chief had informed the Govt that China would not respond if India followed a ' Forward Policy'. While China was building up in Tibet, Indian Ambassador in Beijing must have been in a deep slumber . Defence Minister, Krishna Menon was so convinced of Chinese non-interference that he did not consider it proper to equip his Army with necessary wherewithal to execute 'Forward Policy'.
So it is a combination of Politico-Bureaucratic-Intelligence failures which left no choice for Army but to fail. It was a STRATEGIC BLUNDER over which rank and file of the Army had no control. Even the debacle could have been minimised if India had pressed the Indian Air Force into action to check Chinese infiltration dash to plains. But this was also a Politico-Bureaucratic-Intelligence assessment which led to non-usage of IAF.
All these angles needs to be analysed by a TRUTH RECONCILLIATION COMMISSION to know acts of Omission and Commission by various agencies. Keeping HBR wrapped only leads to blaming the armed forces, which is unjustified. Time for Army to itself ask for a Truth Commission to wash off the untrue and disproportionate blame for 1962 debacle.
Sandeep Mukherjee is talking without real evidences and giving it a colour of failure of armed forces alone which is not expected from a reputed professional. The less I say of analysts like Parveen Sawhney, Rana Ayub and even Parth Satam, the better. One knows where their sympathies are, if not loyalties.
(Col. Rajinder Kushwaha is an ex-NDA, commissioned into 3 Bihar. He is a battle-hardened veteran who served in ’71 War & has operated extensively in various insurgency environs across the country. He is a renowned author, and a highly respected defence & national security expert writing for several reputed publications such as ‘Defence and Security Alert’ (DSA), the ‘Indian Defence Review’ (IDR) among others. You can reach him on Twitter: @RajeeKushwaha, Email ID: [email protected])
(Views expressed are the authors own, and do not reflect the editorial policy of 'Mission Victory India')
(Views expressed are the author's own and do not reflect the editorial stance of Mission Victory India)