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Wednesday, 17 October 2012

From Today's Papers - 17 Oct 2012



Pak shelling kills 3 civilians in Uri

First major ceasefire violation in a decade in Valley

Tribune News Service


Srinagar, October 16

In a first major ceasefire violation in nearly a decade in Kashmir, three civilians, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed in unprovoked firing by Pakistani soldiers at Churanda village in Uri sector of Baramulla district today.


A third civilian, Shaheena (20), who was pregnant, died of shock due to heavy shelling.


The Army will lodge a protest with Pakistan over the ceasefire violation.


“The firing at Churanda village, barely 120 metres from the Line of Control (LoC), was unprovoked. Pakistani troops had been firing intermittently at the village since October 3, for which we had also lodged a protest. Around 10.30 am today, they used heavy machine guns and fired 82 mm mortar shells, having a range of over 5 km, at the village. One shell hit a house in which two persons, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed,” said Major Gen Bipin Rawat, General Officer Commanding (GOC), 19 Infantry Division. “One woman also died of shock.”


While the Army claimed that the third victim died of shock, a police officer who visited the scene said all three had died of splinter injuries.


“The girl had suffered a splinter injury in the head,” said a police officer in Baramulla.


The two dead civilians have been identified as Mohammad Liayaqat (14), and Mohammad Shafiq (32).


Sources said the Indian troops retaliated to the firing that lasted almost an hour.


Sources said local residents made announcements from the village mosque, urging the Pakistani side to stop firing as civilians had died in the shelling.


The three bodies were buried in the village in the evening.


Minister for State for Home Nasir Aslam Wani termed the incident “unfortunate”. “The killing of civilians in cross-border shelling is unfortunate,” he said. Ceasefire violations have been happening regularly in the Jammu region. Two villagers were injured in unprovoked firing across the International Border in Samba district of the Jammu region earlier this month.


Bearing the brunt


    Over 50 civilians have been killed in Uri sector since 1990

    Hundreds of houses have been razed to the ground

    Heavy shelling had forced residents to migrate to safer places

    Calm was restored to the sector after 2003 ceasefire, even though militants continued to sneak in

If peace persists, troops will be withdrawn from J&K: Shinde

NSG celebrates 28th Raising Day; minister lauds forces’ role in internal security

Sunit Dhawan/TNS


Manesar, October 16

The situation in Jammu and Kashmir has remained largely peaceful over the past year and the Union Government will withdraw Army as well as paramilitary forces deployed there if peace continues to prevail in the Valley.


This was stated by Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde while talking to mediapersons on the sidelines of the National Security Guard (NSG)’s 28th Raising Day function here today.


Shinde, who visited J&K recently, said the people were coming forward to maintain normalcy in the state. “It’s a positive sign.


We will withdraw armed forces from J&K if the situation continues to be peaceful and we get people’s support and cooperation,” said the Home Minister.


Shinde lauded the crucial role played by the NSG in maintaining the internal security. NSG Director General Subhash Joshi said substantial funds have been provided for the modernisation of the force. ‘Black Cat’ commandos put up a show of their skills. It included a free-fall by 10 commandos from a height of 5,000 feet, a counter-hijack drill, display of latest state-of-the-art equipment like remotely operated vehicles, unarmed aerial vehicle, total containment vehicle, unarmed combat, karate skills and canine expertise.


Women NSG commandos also performed breathtaking daredevil acts like slithering from helicopter and VIP protection drill.


Shinde honoured the family members of the NSG personnel who had lost their lives in various operations and paid tributes to the martyrs. He also released a coffee table book titled “Memoirs” based on the life and experiences of NSG personnel.

Shortage of firing ranges jeopardising Army’s combat readiness

Ajay Banerjee/TNS


New Delhi, October 16

The Army has to now factor in a new dimension to keep its troops "battle-ready". The force is running of out of field firing ranges needed to practice skills and keep the machinery well-tested.


The dwindling number of firing ranges for use by tank regiments, mechanised units, artillery gun batteries and mortar fire parties was discussed at the ongoing Army Commanders Conference here today.


States are holding back re-notification of ranges on one premise or the other. The Army Commanders suggested that the training schedules should be prepared in such a manner that the existing ranges can be utilised to the optimum level.


As of today, 14 cases of re-notifying the existing ranges are pending with state governments. There is a shortage of filed firing ranges (FFRs) in the armed forces. Around 10 years ago, the Army had 104 ranges. But the number at present is just 66, including 12 acquired and 54 notified ranges. Over the past 10 years, 38 field firing ranges have been taken away from the Army and re-notified.


FFRs need to be re-notified from time-to-time by the respective state governments after clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). Due to increasing population, spread of habitation, general development, encroachments, carving out of new wildlife sanctuaries/reserve forests and other environmental pressures, state governments generally find it difficult to re-notify ranges in their jurisdiction.


Sources pointed out two peculiar instances. In the Kargil-Batalik sector of Ladakh, heavy artillery is positioned facing Pakistan across the Line of Control (LoC). The gunners need to be put through the practice of firing every few months to keep them "battle-ready". Since the terrain is so harsh, the only option is to fire at ranges available in Ladakh.


Re-notification has not been done since 2003 for the range at Nubra near Siachen glacier. Notifications for four other ranges at Kulum, Tartar, Kharbuthang and Mahe will expire in 2014.


In Kashmir, there is another issue related to the FFR at Toshe Maidan. The state government wants it back, the Army says it is the only high-attitude range and is vital for troops located close to the LoC.

India to enhance defence ties with Indonesia

Tribune News Service


New Delhi, October 16

India and Indonesia today decided to enhance their defence cooperation. Defence Minister AK Antony, who is on a visit to Jakarta, termed his meeting with his Indonesian counterpart Purnomo Yusgiantoro as a ‘turning point’ and an ‘excellent beginning’.


This was the first ministerial-level biennial defence dialogue between the two countries which lasted nearly two hours. The two sides exchanged views on a whole range of issues relating to regional and global security, bilateral exercises involving training, co-production of defence equipment and ammunition and high-level visits, MoD spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said in an emailed communiqué from Indonesia.

India must match Chinese capability in the Himalayas

Gen VP Malik (retd) examines the future course of action.


After three centuries, China is enjoying the shengshi — a golden era, an age of prosperity. In the next decade, it would become the world’s largest economy — a progress that also reflects the rise of China’s comprehensive national power. On the defence industrial front, China has displayed exceptional pragmatism, self-reliance and pride. It has been able to demonstrate its ability to produce aircraft, ships, submarines, tanks, artillery and other weapons, and develop/manufacture missiles, information warfare capability and its civil space programmes. There is little doubt that with such a rise, the balance of power continues to shift inexorably in China’s favour.


On the face of it, India and China have cordial bilateral relationship with burgeoning economic cooperation; even some sort of military cooperation. But as Aaron Freidburg states, “Relations between great powers cannot be sustained by inertia, commerce or mere sentiments.” The deep strategic fissures cannot be ignored.


Some Sinologists say that China does not nurse extra territorial ambitions. There are more who feel that China never gives up its border claims. The problem is that most of China’s neighbours do not know which Chinese era is its territorial benchmark. What exactly is the Chinese territory? China recognizes McMahon Line as its boundary with Myanmar, but not with India. Till date, it has not revealed its perception of the LAC which will reduce frequent local tension and allow implementation of confidence-building measures envisaged in Article 3 of the ‘Agreement on Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field along the LAC-1996.’


In recent years, China has been vocal and assertive on its claim over Arunachal Pradesh. It is non-committal over the nuclear arming of Pakistan and induction of PLA into the Gilgit-Baltistan area of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). The latter provides further security to Aksai Chin and Shaqsgam valley under its control and improves Pakistan’s military capability in POK. By issuing stapled visas to Indian passport holders from J & K and Arunachal Pradesh, Beijing is virtually questioning the status of these Indian states.


China now has the benefit of an extensive military oriented infrastructure in Tibet which provides capability for rapid build-up of forces and a smooth chain of supply, supplementing its power projection capacity. With addition of its first aircraft carrier, the PLA Navy is developing blue water status gradually. Its submarine and sea domination patrols are gradually extending their ranges to Spratley Islands and in the Pacific Ocean area.


Unlike India, China has an integrated defence structure wherein the Army, the Navy and the Air Force function under a single Military Region Commander. It has common logistics for all three Services, which is more economical than the system followed in India. The PLA has a young age profile as 50 per cent personnel of its personnel are drawn from those attending compulsory military service.


China’s refusal to indicate its version of the LAC is pointing towards a larger ploy of progressively building up a case of its claims over Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh. Its inroads into India’s neighbourhood and assertive maritime dominance in the eastern part of the Indian Ocean echo its long-term strategic motives. These developments will give it a wide array of options, including military coercion. It could then attempt to resolve impending disputes in its favour while bargaining from a position of strength.


China’s relations with Pakistan are driven by a strong politico-military calculus to keep India’s second front alive. During visit to Islamabad in December 2010, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao had highlighted China’s economic solidarity with Pakistan and the growing strategic partnership and military relations between the two countries. Addressing a joint Parliament session, Wen Jiabao stated, “To cement and advance the all-weather strategic partnership of cooperation between China and Pakistan is our common strategic choice… The two neighbouring countries are brothers forever. China-Pakistan friendship is full of vigour and vitality, like a lush tree with deep roots and thick foliage. China-Pakistan relationship is strong and solid, like a rock standing firm despite the passage of time.” While a full scale two- front war on India’s borders with China and Pakistan is unlikely, such a scenario in the Gilgit-Baltistan area cannot be ruled out. That is one reason why the vacation of Siachen Glacier makes no strategic sense at present.


Need for foresight & vision


Strategy and diplomacy in international relations is based on the art of possible and the advancement of national interests. At the strategic level, we require a long memory and a longer foresight and vision. Despite several foreign aggressions in our pre- and post-independent history, we seem to lack realism. There is a sense of self-righteousness and singular faith in words, without looking for underlying falsehoods and incompetence.


In his recent book ‘On China’, Henry Kissinger treats the India-China border war of 1962 as an important illustration of the Chinese statecraft wherein ‘deterrent co-existence’ and ‘offensive-deterrence’, defined as ‘luring in the opponents and then dealing them a sharp and stunning blow’, are important components. There is no ‘consistency’ in Chinese strategic history. An important lesson that emerges from this episode is about political realism versus ideological wishful thinking.


Strong national defence enables strong diplomacy! India may not use force to settle its boundary dispute with China. But can that be said about China tomorrow? India must pay greater attention to its defence capabilities in the Himalayas while continuing improvement in its political, economic and cultural relations with China.


There is an urgent need to build defence infrastructure along the northern border. Lack of infrastructure creates huge logistic difficulties and restricts military deployment and manoeuvre. Our border road construction programmes in the North are running way behind schedule. While continuing our political, economic and cultural engagement policies, we must prepare ourselves for any eventuality, develop military infrastructure, put in place synergised border management operations, and build greater surveillance (satellite, aerial and ground level), night fighting and rapid deployment capabilities in the mountains. We must modernise our armed forces and be able to convince the other side that any aggressive moves will invite counter moves.

Chargesheet filed against Pak spy

NEW DELHI: Delhi Police has filed a chargesheet against Zubair Khan, an alleged spy arrested on the charges of passing on Indian Army secrets to an 'agent' in Pakistan High Commission. He had been asked to gather information on government officials and journalists who frequently visit Pakistan.


The chargesheet was filed by the crime branch in the court of chief metropolitan magistrate Vidya Prakash. In the chargesheet, Delhi Police has said that 37-year-old Zubair, a resident of Jamia Nagar in south Delhi, used to procure secret information and documents relating to Indian Army and other government departments and hand them over to a person named Alvi, whom he had met at the Commission.


The police probe revealed that Zubair used to collect the documents and photographs from a man called Shahid and submit them to Alvi. Alvi sent names and addresses of ministry officials, journalists and students to Zubair via SMSs.


Zubair, a native of Kakrala Village in Uttar Pradesh, was arrested from Kalindi Kunj Park on July 17 by the anti-extortion cell of crime branch. The agency said Zubair was nabbed while he was waiting for Alvi. Five photographs relating to the India Army and three papers containing telephone numbers and addresses of Army officials were recovered from him.

It’s time we learned from the past

Maroof Raza

October 16, 2012

Fifty years ago, on October 19, close to midnight, China attacked India’s forward posts in the North-East Frontier Agency (now Arunachal Pradesh) and put to rest Jawaharlal Nehru’s misconceived ‘forward policy’. The humiliation of that military defeat shattered Nehru’s idealism and half

a century later it still rankles India’s military pride. In that month-long conflict — clearly India’s darkest hour — post after post fell to the Chinese, as India’s political and military leadership failed the country, even though our junior officers and our troops, who were pushed to the frontline in cotton uniforms and canvas shoes, fought back with their bare hands and stones when their ammunition ran out. In retrospect, the fall of Tawang, Walang, Se La, and Bomdila could have been prevented if India’s military commanders had stood up to the arrogant defence minister at the time, Krishna Menon.


The cause of the conflict was China’s opposition to the border mapped during the Simla convention, 1914, where Tibet’s border lay between Aksai Chin (in Ladakh) and Xinjiang in the west, and the boundary of Arunachal in the east. It was an imperial legacy that Mao Tse Tung chose to defy. Coupled with that was India’s diplomatic-cum-intelligence failure in Tibet. For a decade preceding the invasion, China refused to accept India’s suggestion that Tibet must be allowed to remain independent and act as a buffer between the two countries. Also, New Delhi’s failure to formally recognise Tibet as a country let China violate Tibet’s sovereignty. And as the Chinese presence in Tibet grew, India became covertly involved in supplying arms to the Tibetans. In 1960, China’s Chou en Lai had in fact offered a boundary settlement, but Nehru dismissed it. Thus, Chairman Mao decided to teach India a lesson and bring Nehru to the negotiating table.


What followed was a complete military rout for India. The Chinese first attached Bum La and Thag La near Namka Chu in the east and Rezang La in Chusul in the west. In both sectors Indian troops initially showed fearless resolve. In the battle of Namka Chu, the Rajput Battalion 2, under Brigadier Dalvi, fought until they were almost wiped out. And at Rezang La, Major Shaitan Singh, (a posthumous Param Vir Chakra) and his men from 13 Kumaon, held off seven Chinese attacks, as all 114 died. But at the higher levels, our men were completely let down, as Menon bypassed the Indian Army chief and other commanders and decided to run the war by himself. Even the Indian Air Force was used largely to ferry casualties, not in an offensive role, for fear of escalating the conflict. The invasion ended abruptly on November 21, 1962, with the unilateral withdrawal by the Chinese army.


Even now, New Delhi’s response to Chinese belligerence is cautiously measured. The reason is that our political leadership remains in a state of denial about what went wrong and who our guilty men were. The truth is in the report compiled by two Indian army officers — Lt Gen Henderson Brooks and Brig Prem Bhagat, VC — that remains locked in a vault in South Block. By one account, only a few people have had a look at the report. This includes historian Neville Maxwell — who squarely blames New Delhi for the conflict — and those at the defence ministry’s historical division, who are sworn to secrecy. However, it is yet to be made public for the fear that it will further sully Nehru’s image. But it’s about time we learned from our past.


With the border issue far from settled, especially China’s claim over Tawang, a standoff in the future is still likely. But how could India react if that happens? In at least two instances since 1962, the Indian Army has shown that it has the resolve to stand up to China’s bullying. The first was in 1967, when troops of the 2nd Grenadiers, refused to blink or budge from their posts in Nathu La, even as the Chinese opened fire on them. And unlike 1962, in 1986, General K Sundarji’s swift response to move troops - by using the IAF’s heli-lift capability — to counter a Chinese army build up at Sumdorong Chu, the Namka Chu River — where the Chinese began the 1962 invasion — has a lesson for the future. Rajiv Gandhi wanted to pull back, but Sundarji stood his ground and the Chinese backed off.

‘Must address crucial gaps’

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Bikram Singh told top Army Commanders on Monday that “there was a need to address hollowness in defence preparedness and undertake modernisation with added vigour”. Defence sources said the “hollowness” referred to crucial gaps in acquisition of important equipment and weaponry that need to be filled in order to maintain operational preparedness at the highest level. The three-day Army Commanders’ Conference began in the capital on Monday. Even the previous Army chief Gen. V.K. Singh (Retd) — during his tenure as COAS — had raised the issue strongly.

Defence sources said that the “hollowness” pertained to lack of certain crucial equipment in artillery, air-defence, the Army’s aviation wing and the mechanised forces/Armoured Corps. The Army badly needs modern artillery guns and India has not acquired any major artillery gun for its Army in over two decades. However, the government is making efforts in this direction to plug the gaps. The Army also needs modern air-defence guns and missiles and most of its current air-defence inventory is obsolete and outdated.

For its aviation wing, the Army needs attack helicopters as well as light-utility helicopters. Just last week, the government agreed to the Army’s demand for attack helicopters. The government also intends to acquire light-utility helicopters for the Army.

So far as mechanised forces/Armoured Corps is concerned, the Army is focusing on upgradation of firepower including T-90 tanks and the third generation of anti-tank guided missiles.

Operational preparedness along India’s borders with both Pakistan and China are understood to have been discussed at the conference. Focus on cohesion in management of Army units is also understood to have been discussed in the wake of a few incidents of tension between Army officers and personnel below officer rank (PBOR) in the past couple of years.

Exclusive: What provoked the India-China war?

Colonel Anil Athale (retd), the official historian of India's 1962 war with China, pin-points the reasons for the clash between the Asian giants 50 years ago and the series of blunders that led to India's military humiliation.


October 12, 1962, on his way from Madras (now Chennai) on a visit to Sri Lanka [ Images ], India's then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru [ Images ], when harried by reporters about the clashes on the China border, remarked that his government had directed the Indian Army [ Images ] 'to free our territory in the northeast frontier', implying, incorrectly, that India had decided to engage China in a full-scale war.


On October 14, China's People's Daily quoted Nehru and told its readers to expect an invasion of China by India. One author would later write 'Nehru's casual statement only served to precipitate the Chinese attack on India.' Many in India have swallowed this canard.


While speaking to this author in May 2003, Professor J K Galbriath, the influential American ambassador to India at that time, believed that the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict was 'accidental', a sort of escalation that neither side wanted. On the other hand there is clear evidence that the Chinese were well prepared for an armed conflict.


An in- depth analysis of those events is of more than academic interest in the 21st century as India and China rise on the world stage, there is a possibility of clash between the two Asian giants.


Indians lack a sense of history as we tend to think in Yuga or thousand-year cycles, in re-birth and have a taboo about writing or saying anything against a dead person. History if seen as a search for the truth, then in India it is also the first causality of this mindset.


The 1962 clash of arms between India and China was insignificant in terms of troops involved (just three divisions on our side and about six from the Chinese side). The conflict took place in remote, sparsely populated area and lasted only about a month, from October 20 to November 21, 1962. But in terms of its impact on Nehru and India, it was indeed a major event.


Even 50 years after the event the dispute remains unsolved.


At a personal level, it shattered Nehru and India lost self confidence. A nation that was till then being compared with China and was regarded as its competitor in Asia, began to be equated with puny Pakistan.


During the conflict itself, Nehru, the true democrat that he was, bowed to Opposition pressure and ordered an inquiry into the 1962 debacle. The two-member committee consisted of Lieutenant General Henderson Brooks and Major General Prem Singh Bhagat, Victoria Cross.


The report continues to be kept out side public domain till date though the official history, largely based on this report, is now freely available on the Internet.


The initial expectation was that the inquiry would be a comprehensive one and would go into the policy issues and higher direction of war. But Nehru would have none of it and the work of Henderson Brooks and Bhagat was confined to the military aspects of the debacle. In this they did a through job indeed. Bhagat, an old hand at the Military Operations directorate was alert and had all the rooms containing the official files sealed before interested parties could tamper with the records.


The report was in my personal custody for over two years (1987 to 1988) and used fully to write the official history of that conflict. There is very little to add to that and one must keep that issue aside.


Wars are fought for political objectives and foreign policies and calculations of national interest play a major role in decision making. No war history can be complete without assessment of these aspects.


Here unfortunately the war history division met with a solid wall of resistance from the ministry of external affairs. The ministry put such impossible conditions that our director Dr Prasad, gave up any further attempts to access the records.


The MEA insisted that the records can only be seen in their office. All the notes made would be left there and scrutinised by the ministry. Luckily, that did not prove too much of a handicap since the ministry of defence had kept meticulous records of the joint meetings held with the secretary general of the MEA and one can have glimpse of the process of policy making.


The fateful decision


Tensions had been rising on the Ladakh front since 1959 when India discovered that the Chinese had built a highway connecting Tibet [ Images ] with Sinkiang through the Indian territory of Aksai Chin.


To counter this Nehru in consultation with Lieutenant General B M Kaul (of the supply corps and his cousin) embarked upon a 'forward policy' of establishing small posts with 5 to 10 men in the areas claimed by the Chinese as theirs. These posts were militarily and logistically unviable and showed Nehru's legalistic bent of mind.


When this led to several armed clashes between the two sides, the military command carried out a major brainstorming exercise, code named 'Sheel' on October 15, 16, 1960 (a full two years before the actual Chinese attack). The professional assessment of the military was that a minimum of seven battalions would be needed and if these are to be withdrawn from the Pakistani border then additional troops would have to be raised.


The government brushed aside the army's apprehensions, turned down the request to raise additional battalions and ordered the army to establish posts as ordered.


As the situation on the border began to worsen, the Western Command wrote to the headquarters on August 15, 1962 that in view of the Chinese military superiority on the border, war must be avoided at all costs.


But less than a month before the attack, army headquarters replied that the 'forward policy' is a success as borne out by the facts as Chinese exercised restraint.


'We must show our flag' was the order.


As Nehru faced a hostile Opposition and wanted the army to 'do something', General Kaul, an ambitious general who even figured as a possible successor to Nehru, proposed a bizarre idea of offensive action in the eastern sector, nearly 1,000 kilometres away from Ladakh. The situation there was even worse than in Ladakh in terms of logistics.


Thus, it is India that activated the eastern sector. The army headquarters had no idea of the situation on ground.


Lieutenant Colonel Eric Vas (later a lieutenant general) who led the first battalion that was inducted in Tawang tried to highlight the problems by dramatically writing a letter on a Chapati as there were shortages of everything from ammunition to clothing and even stationary! But Vas was sacked from his command.


It was only in the last week of September that the nation woke up to the reality when the Chinese mauled an Indian patrol in this sector.


But despite all this in a classic example of those chaotic times, on September 22, 1962, a joint secretary in the ministry of defence H C Sarin issued the war directive. It is an unworthy example of how not to go to war and therefore deserves to be quoted in full.


'The decision throughout has been as discussed earlier that the army should prepare and throw out the Chinese as soon as possible. COAS was accordingly directed to take action accordingly for eviction of the Chinese from Kameng frontier division as soon as he is ready./


The 1962 border conflict had another dimension to it -- the struggle between Nehru's policy of non-alignment and a determined group that wanted India to join the Western camp led by the US.


In early 1962 during the elections for the third Lok Sabha, the attention of the whole country was riveted on the electoral clash between V K Krishna Menon of the Congress and J B Kriplani of the combined Opposition. Nehru saw this as a direct challenge to his foreign policy.


Thanks to the December 1961 annexation of Goa [ Images ], Menon as defence minister took full credit and defeated Kriplani by over 100,000 votes. Kriplani's criticism of Nehru's China policy failed to make any dent.


The electoral defeat seems to have not dampened the enthusiasm of the pro-West lobby. There is enough evidence to show that B N Mullick, the powerful chief of the Intelligence Bureau, was very aggressive and did everything in his power to provoke the Chinese.


Even Nehru's casual remark while going on a visit to Sri Lanka was headlined by the Indian Express as a policy statement. Its editor Frank Moraes was a known critic of Nehru's policy of keeping distance from the West.


While the Henderson Brooks report dealt mainly with the military aspect of the conflict, there is indeed a hint that a group of individuals within the Government of India was determined to provoke a military confrontation with China.


Most of the blame for the military debacle has been laid at the doorstep of Nehru and Menon. Nehru indeed must take the blame for the systematic neglect of defence preparedness in terms of equipping the armed forces for a conflict in Himalayas.


The casualties of the conflict of around 4,000, a full half were due to the weather. The Indian soldiers were equipped with Lee-Enfield bolt action rifle of 1900s vintage. In the cold of Ladakh, where the temperatures reach minus 40 degrees centigrade, the soldiers were forced to operate the metal bolts with bare hands!


Over 2,000 soldiers suffered chilblains and cold injuries resulting in amputation of hands! The bureaucracy even denied authorising emergency rations of chocolates -- then a monopoly of the elite!


But in fairness, Nehru was not blind to the Chinese threat. Where he went wrong was not factoring in the effect of the Cuban missile crisis, that shut out the implicit American aid to India at a crucial moment. Thomas C Schelling in his seminal work Arms and Influence (Yale University Press, 1966, page 53) says that while help to India against China was not a 'policy', it was nevertheless an implicit commitment. He further remarks that Nehru anticipated it for over ten years.


The Cuban missile crisis that took place concurrently however put paid to these Indian expectations. There is enough evidence to show that the Chinese exploited the crisis to 'straighten out' the border with India.


However, it must be clearly mentioned that while some of the Indian actions were provocative, the Chinese had prepared in advance for the military clash. Some Westerners notably Neville Maxwell, (author of the widely quoted India's China War) have tried to blame India for the war, claiming that the Chinese actions were a 'reaction' to Indian provocations. This is military nonsense.


Tibet at that time had very tenuous communications with mainland China. The support bases for the Chinese army were nearly 2,000 km away from the battlefield. Everything from a needle to food had to be stocked over period of six months.


The Chinese preparations to attack India were going on for at least six months prior to the shooting war. The Chinese had in place heavy artillery in Ladakh that had been shifted from the Formosa front.


All this puts paid to the canard that China merely 'reacted' to the Indian provocations! Maxwell is a confirmed Maoist and his account while seemingly accurate, leaves out the crucial issue of Chinese premeditation and preparation.


A brief summary of the events of those early days of 1962 conflict would clarify the issue:


In 1959, China intruded into the unmanned Aksai Chin area and constructed a road linking the restive province of Sinkiang with Tibet. It was a militarily important road for China.


India had meagre strength in Ladakh and the troops were entirely dependent on air supply, the road link to Leh was barely operational. India neither had the troops or logistics to undertake operations to evict the Chinese from Aksai Chin.


China showed no desire to acquire any more areas, but the Indian government under pressure of public opinion decided to 'do something' about the occupation. Military professional advice asked the government to first build infrastructure and stall the Chinese in the meantime.


'Do something' was translated into a 'forward policy' whereby militarily unsound small posts were established in the disputed Aksai Chin areas. As China became uneasy with these posts and threatened to use force, a new front was opened in the North-East Frontier Agency (now Arunachal Pradesh) on the advice of the military who claimed that India was stronger there and could create 'diversion' to reduce the threat to Ladakh.


The Chinese were aware of the impending Cuban missile deployment and calculated that the US would be engaged in a major confrontation with the erstwhile USSR to come to India's aid. The Chinese methodically built up its supplies and troops in Tibet to wait for the onset of the Cuban missile crisis.


That opportunity came on October 20 when the US decided to confront the USSR on Cuba.


Colonel Anil Athale (retd), as joint director of the War History Division, Ministry of Defence, researched and co-authored the official history of the 1962 India-China war.

'Mamu Bachchon Ko Leke Nikla Hai'

AHMEDABAD: Mamu Bachchon Ko Leke Nikla Hai.. This rather innocuous sentence actually conceals some crucial information about Indian Army's movements in Gujarat.


Crime branch officials said that this line found in one of the mails sent to an ISI agent called Tahir in Karachi from the email account of main accused Sirajuddin Fakir, a resident of Jamalpur, means that a top Army officer has ventured out of his base with jawans and is headed for a particular destination.


"The origin point of the Army team and its destination were also mentioned in the mail. Fakir had used STD codes, written in a jumbled up manner, to specify where the army officer was headed with his jawans. For instance, Ahmedabad would be referred to as 970. This number is the city's STD code - 079 - written in a coded form to keep others from understanding the message," said a crime branch official.


Deputy commissioner of police, crime branch, Himanshu Shukla told TOI: "Frequency of Fakir's phone calls to Pakistan was quite high. We need to probe who he was speaking to and what information he had passed on to them. Fakir often visited Army cantonment areas in Ahmedabad, Bhuj and Gandhinagar to supply poultry products."


Fakir, said crime branch officials, had also set up a network of sub-agents in Gujarat. The other suspected ISI spy, Fakir's friend Mohammad Ayub Shaikh has told crime branch officials that Fakir had several sub-agents who he used to pay every month. Fakir had got Rs 2.5 lakh through just one international money transfer firm in one and a half years. Cops believe that the amount received by Fakir might be much more than he is revealing. Shaikh, who is a student of journalism, used to get Rs 250 for every mail he helped Fakir send to his ISI contacts in Karachi. "It is possible that these sub-agents are also linked to the Army in some manner," said an official.


On Monday, Army intelligence officers visited crime branch and spoke to the investigators. The army officers inquired about Fakir's contacts who helped him get information about their movements.


Ahmedabad: A day after arresting two suspected ISI agents, crime branch officials now claim that Fakir has been lying to them in the initial rounds of interrogation. "His assertion that he had first visited Pakistan in 2007 and was recruited by ISI may be a lie. His ties with ISI might well be older and deeper than what Fakir has confessed till date," said a crime branch official.


The crime branch officials now believe that Fakir had concealed much about his activities in Gujarat. "On Sunday, after his arrest, Fakir claimed that he had been to Pakistan in 2007 and got trained by ISI there. When we raided his house in Jamalpur, we seized his passport. It had been issued in 2008 and it showed he had been to Pakistan in 2010. He had also been to Tanzania and Uganda in 2010."


The officials believe that he had either gone to Pakistan illegally before this or had a passport earlier which he reported missing after some trips to Pakistan and got a fresh passport issued in his name. "We are enquiring with the passport officials in this regard to know if there was an old passport issued to him," said the official.


Fakir remanded to custody


Crime Branch officials on Monday produced both the accused before Metropolitan Magistrate B J Ganatra and sought their custody for 14 days to further interrogate them over their alleged activities of espionage. The court, however, ordered them to remain in police custody till October 23. Crime branch, in its remand application, told the court that Fakir is linked to ISI and has been charged with waging a war against nation. The agency now wants to probe who are the local contacts of Fakir. "We've got the name of one his accomplices - Shahi. We're now hunting for him. We also wish to know which army cantonments he had been to in Gujarat," a crime branch official told the court. tnn


IB gave tip off about emails


Crime branch officials claim that an input from Central Intelligence Bureau tipped them off them about emails generating from Ahmedabad to Karachi and also raised a suspicion that there could be ISI agents operating in Gujarat. "The ISI agent in Karachi used to delete emails soon as he read it, to prevent it from being traced. We kept the duo here under surveillance and waited for the moment to catch them red-handed, while drafting an email. On Sunday, the crime branch officials' team that was following Shaikh and Fakir spotted them entering into a cyber cafe in Bapunagar. Soon as they finished typing their mail, some senior police officers swooped down along with government witnesses. In front of the witnesses Shaikh was asked to reopen the mail and we found the coded information saved in its drafts folder," said a crime branch official. tnn

‘Where is the bloody border?’ The arrogant men of 1962

The 1962 debacle against China is a story of arrogance.

Defence minister Krishna Menon was undoubtedly the most arrogant man of the subcontinent, but there are many other arrogant personae in the saga of 1962. One was BN Mullik, the Intelligence Chief (IB director) who kept repeating ad nauseam: “The Chinese will not attack”; then Lt Gen BM Kaul who announced to the world that a new Corps (4 Corps), composed of himself and a couple of staff officers, would have no problem to get the Chinese out.


And of course the prime minister himself who, at Palam airport on his way to Colombo, told the waiting journalists that he had ordered the Indian Army “to throw the Chinese out”. He generously left the time to the discretion of the army. It was on October 12, 1962, just eight days before the fateful day.


But throw the Chinese out from where?

Nobody knew exactly where the border was.


When a young Captain, Mahabir Prasad of the 1 Sikhs, established the Dhola Post near the Namkha chu (river) at the end of July, he was told by a local officer that the Thagla ridge, north of the river was the border (incidentally Prasad was killed on October 20). Niranjan Prasad, the GOC of the 4 Infantry Division manning the border, wrote in his memoirs: “Since Captain Prasad’s maps showed the McMahon Line as passing to the south of Thagla, he did not act on the information. Instead, on return to base, he referred the matter Divisional HQs. We, in turn, reported to Corps, Command and Army HQ (in Delhi).”


One does not need to be Inspector Jacques Clouseau to discover why the famous Henderson-Brooks report has been kept out of the eyes of the Indian public for fifty years. Simple, the bosses in Delhi were unable to tell the local commanders where the border was.


A few months after the debacle, the Indian Government requested Lt Gen Henderson-Brooks to prepare a report of the events which led to the fiasco. Although extracts were read out in the Parliament by YB Chavan, the defence minister in 1963, the gist of the report remains missing in action.


In 2008, answering a question on the report, Defence Minister AK Antony told the Indian Parliament that the report could not be made public because its contents “are not only extremely sensitive, but are of current operational value”.


Nobody will believe that a 49 year-old report is still of ‘operational value’.


In 2005, veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar had requested, under the RTI, the ministry of defence a copy of the report.


During the hearings of the commission in March 2009, the defence ministry articulated the official stand: “Disclosure of this information … has a direct bearing on the question of the demarcation of the Line of Actual Control between India and China, a live issue under examination between the two countries at present.”


On March 19, 2010, in a ‘decision notice’, the Central Information Commission states: “No part of the report might at this stage be disclosed.”


On October 6, Mao had told his Party’s colleagues: “Nehru really wants to use force. This isn’t strange. He has always wanted to seize Aksai Chin and Thagla ridge. He thinks he can get everything he desires.”


Though there was no question of the Indian Army ‘attacking China’ with no food, no warm clothes, no armament or ammunition supply, the Chinese seemed to have perceived the situation differently.


Was Mao looking for a pretext?

In his memoirs, Niranjan Prasad describes the setting: “The McMahon Line as drawn by Sir Henry McMahon in 1914 on an unsurveyed map, was not an accurate projection of the Himalayan watershed line...In this process the position of Thagla ridge was, to say the least, left ambiguous.”


The survey had been completed in 1913 by Captains Bailey and Morshead, but it was rather sketchy (1 inch to 8 miles).


If one follows the watershed principle, the Thagla ridge was the logical border, but the fact remains that the old map which was the reference for India’s position on the location of the McMahon Line, showed the Thagla ridge and the Namkha Chu, north of the Red Line. Further surveys were unfortunately not conducted after India’s independence.


On 14 August, 1962, Brigadier DK Palit, director of Military Operations, was told about the issue; he later recalled that he referred the Thagla dilemma to the director of military survey who “commented that the existing maps of the area were ‘sketchy and inaccurate, having been compiled from unreliable sources.”

By then, it was already too late to go back; the arrogant main actors in Delhi had taken over.


The fact that the Chinese attack occurred simultaneously in all sectors (Tawang, Walong in NEFA and Ladakh) is proof that the operations had been prepared well in advance by the Communist regime in Beijing, which did not really need a pretext.


When China launched massive offensives along the Himalayan border in 1962, General Bikram Singh was studying at the Punjab Public School in Nabha. Though the front was far away, he and his friends will not forget those days of air raid sirens and the rush to take shelter in nearby bunkers. There were blackout drills and freedom songs. Everyone was keen to bear arms against the enemy. That childhood experience, in part, led to him joining the Army 10 years later.

Commissioned into the Sikh Light Infantry Regiment on March 31, 1972, he commanded an infantry battalion in the northeast and one on the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. During the Kargil war, he, as official spokesperson, was the face of the Army. Subsequently, he was deputy force commander of the UN Blue Helmets in Congo, commanded the Kolkata-based Eastern Army Command and took over as Chief of the Army Staff on May 31, 2012. Singh is the first chief from among officers who joined post-1971, the year in which India fought its last war.

Indisputably, Singh has rare military talent and the rare ability to empathise. Friends say he has a special brand of humour which could even be self-deprecating. Colleagues know little about his private life, other than that he played cricket and is a bookworm. A big fan of poetry, his favourite is Sir Muhammad Iqbal aka Allama Iqbal. These days Singh's reading list is mostly on China, yet, in this interview with THE WEEK, he was extremely guarded on questions specific to that neighbour.

Sources in the Army Headquarters say that, unlike what has been widely reported, Singh has not scrapped the idea of raising a new strike corps of about 40,000 soldiers. In fact, Singh confirmed the proposal to THE WEEK.

The strike corps, according to reliable sources, is aimed at dissuading China from adventurism in Arunachal Pradesh. “We have plans in place to ensure the country's territorial integrity is never again violated the way it was during the 1962 war,” said a senior staff officer. “1962 will not be repeated, never.” Asked about it, Singh would only confirm the existence of plans.

During the interview, an aide informed him about the death of an officer in Ladakh. Singh asked his wife, Bubbles Kaur, to get ready to visit the bereaved family. The interview had to be concluded shortly. Excerpts:

You are the first post-1971 war officer to lead the Army. It is seen by many as a generational shift in the Army. What does this mean for you?

While the major security challenges of contemporary times have essentially been in the sub-conventional war fighting domain, the Indian Army possesses great experience and the required prowess to win wars for the country in both conventional and sub-conventional arenas. I can assure you that there will be no drawbacks due to any 'generational shift'. The Indian Army's leadership is highly competent, adroit and astute to handle various challenges.

You have been visiting various commands and have met officers and soldiers. What are the major issues that you are conveying to them?

[I tell them] We need to get back to basics with regard to management of our units. It needs to be remembered that the most precious resource of the Indian Army is the soldier, who is at the heart and soul of our combat power. We need to ensure that he remains fully motivated, geared and primed to execute his assigned tasks with josh and élan, both individually and as part of his sub-unit.

The Army is pitching for its own air wing. What is the rationale for demanding air capability for the Army?

The Army, as part of the overall plans for capability development, has envisaged integral aviation. The induction of attack helicopters and tactical lift capability into army aviation is an inescapable operational necessity. It will enable us to operate effectively in all types of terrains and maintain the necessary tempo of operations. All major armies of the world have integral aviation resources. I am convinced that given the wisdom of our leadership, these resources will ultimately get transferred to the Army in the overall interest of national security.

Is the Indian Army failing on the modernisation front?

Modernisation is a complex and dynamic process impacted by operational changes, emerging technologies and budgetary support. Every defence plan earmarks a substantial component of its capital budget for modernisation. I am conscious of the fact that the Army's modernisation plan has not progressed as desired. There has been slippage in capital procurement. Various bottlenecks in the existing procurement procedure are being streamlined. Modernisation cannot also be complete without India acquiring indigenous capability. The role of DRDO in this regard is paramount. We need to develop a research and development base which is comparable to the best in the world.

Despite joint military exercises and growing relationship with India, the Chinese army's border transgressions have not reduced. Why is the Army unable to stop border transgressions?

There are a few areas along the border where India and China have different perceptions of Line of Actual Control (LAC). Both sides patrol up to their respective perceptions of LAC. Due to perceived differences in the alignment of LAC, some minor incidents of local nature do occur, which are resolved amicably through the established mechanisms of hot lines, flag meetings and border personnel meetings.

The Army has a plan to raise an additional mountain strike corps to defend the border with China. What is the progress on the proposal?

Based on the threat perception, the Indian Army has identified its requirements and formulated its long-term perspective plan (LTPP) for development of capabilities and force structures. LTPP for the 12th Plan has recently been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security. [The progress on capability development is reviewed periodically.]

Focus of the Army over the last five years has been to progressively increase our capabilities through enhancement of force levels, upgradation of technology, induction of force multipliers as also modernisation and improvement of infrastructure.

Raising of two infantry divisions sanctioned in the 11th Plan was completed by me when I was Eastern Army Commander. These formations are today operationally effective. Our proposal [to raise the new mountain strike corps] is undergoing the process of vetting and validation. There have been some observations that are being looked into by us. The proposal is being resubmitted and I am confident that it will soon get approved.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony has expressed concern about the deteriorating relationship between soldiers and officers in the Army.

It is true that as in the case of a large organisation, some aberrations do arise. It remains the focus of the Army to identify the causative factors for such aberrations and institute measures to obviate them.

My talks to officers at various stations have essentially been focused on highlighting the causative factors for the aberrations and urging all unit and formation commanders to create conducive climate in their units and formation, besides ensuring strict adherence to unit routine that enables all ranks to intermingle during various parades. It is extremely important for healthy interpersonal relations that officers and men rub shoulders during training and games parades.

What is your view of the India's internal security threats?

The situation in J&K and the northeast has improved owing to the relentless operations carried out by the security forces. Multi-pronged initiatives, as part of our national strategy, have strengthened the hands of civil administration. We need to remain vigilant and continue with our intelligence-based surgical operations while scrupulously upholding the law of the land and with utmost respect for human rights. We need to keep all enablers in place, especially when there are still around 400 terrorists in the state [J&K] and intelligence reports allude to higher level of infiltration.

You are reputedly a bookworm. What are you reading currently?

These days, the only time I get to read is while I am travelling. I am reading India-China Nuclear Crossroads by Lora Saalman.



Offensive action


The Indian Army hopes to have a strike corps based in the northeast soon. The proposed corps will have its own mountain artillery, combat engineers, anti-aircraft guns and radio equipment. It will provide India with strategic capabilities that were missed badly in the 1962 war.

After 1962, India's policy was not to build any offensive formations in the eastern sector, fearing it might provoke Beijing. The sanctioning of a strike corps, therefore, indicates a new assertiveness.

The proposal for the corps was submitted by the Army in 2007. On May 14, 2009, the cabinet committee on security approved the plan. The finance ministry, however, felt that the cost involved—about 065,000 crore—was too high, and sent the file back to the ministry of defence. There were also questions whether this step would end up being more provocative than effective.

Contrary to what has been widely reported, Gen. Bikram Singh has not given up on the plan. He told THE WEEK that the proposal was very much on the cards and would be cleared soon.


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