1962 Indo-China War:The Truth Must Be Out
By Soli J Sorabjee | Published: 23rd March 2014 06:00 AM |
Severe military reverses that our country suffered in the 1962 war with China was a humiliating national experience. Nehru, a close friend of Chinese Premier Chou En-Lai, was a shattered man because his ‘Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai’ policy was in a shambles. Nehru was led to believe that the Chinese would not launch against India military offensive of the magnitude they did. The Henderson Brooks report, sections of which have been selectively put online, makes disturbing reading. Its finding is that military action by India was flawed and hasty; an unsound military plan was the reason for the debacle and that was mainly owing to flawed military intelligence. The tragic consequence was that our troops in small numbers were isolated at poorly manned posts, making them easy targets for the Chinese troops.
The impression one gathers from the report is that the villain of the piece is former defence minister V K Krishna Menon who, because of his ideological predilections, chose to ignore the serious situation faced by our forces in the north from the Chinese. Lt Gen. B M Kaul’s untenable view was that “the Chinese would not provoke a show-down”. The Henderson Brooks report points out that our army was not even prepared to meet a limited operation and pungently observes that “no army should be placed at the mercy of the enemy on the off-chance that the latter would not react”. A nagging question is: Did the order by our establishment to evict the Chinese provoke massive retaliation by the Chinese, who did not attack us first as was generally believed? Based on this mistaken belief, proceedings for deportation under the Foreigners’ Act were initiated against several Chinese who had been living for years in Calcutta and Bombay, one of whom was the owner of the popular restaurant Flora at Worli in Bombay for whom I secured relief from the Bombay High Court.
A national debate on the 1962 military debacle is imperative. To that end, Henderson Brooks Report should be declassified at the earliest. The truth must be out. The people of India, especially the families of our ill-clothed and ill-equipped soldiers who sacrificed their lives countering the Chinese onslaught, are entitled to know the truth. That is the minimum obligation of the Union Government whatever be its political colour and that obligation can no longer be evaded by raising spurious phantoms of national security, now that we are into 2014.
Osama bin Laden’s Presence in Pakistan: Pakistan has consistently maintained that its military establishment was unaware of the presence of Osama bin Laden in his home at Abbottabad, a stone’s throw from Pakistan’s military headquarters. Prima facie Pakistan’s version is unconvincing. If Pakistani authorities were really ignorant about Osama’s presence in Abbottabad that is a sad reflection on the competence of Pakistani intelligence. A recent report in the New York Times by a senior journalist, Carlotta Gall, who covered Pakistan and Afghanistan for his paper from 2011 to 2013, states that “former ISI chief Lt Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha knew of Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan and LeT founder Hafiz Saeed was in regular contact with Osama”. The news report states that soon after US Navy SEAL’s raid on Osama’s house, a Pakistani official told him that US had direct evidence that the ISI chief knew of bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad. According to the media report, the haul of handwritten notes, letters, computer files and other information collected from Osama’s house during the raid revealed regular correspondence between Osama and other militant leaders, including Hafiz Saeed of LeT and Mullah Omar of the Taliban who must have known that Osama was in Pakistan. As expected Pakistani intelligence sources have dismissed the New York Times report as baseless and insist that nobody in Pakistan knew about Osama’s presence. It is difficult to swallow the Pakistani claim because of the high level of Pakistani intelligence. firstname.lastname@example.org
Sorabjee is a former AttorneyGeneral of India