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Wednesday, 26 March 2014

From Today's Papers - 26 Mar 2014

India test-fires N-missile from under sea

New Delhi, March 25
India has successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable ballistic missile launched from an underwater platform with a range of over 2,000 km. With this it has taken a significant step towards completing the nuclear triad available with a few nations.

The missile, which can be launched from submarines, was test-fired yesterday in the Bay of Bengal and all parameters were met, Defence Ministry sources said.

This is the longest range missile in the underwater category to have been developed by India.

India has now developed the capability of launching long-range nuclear-capable missile from surface, air and underwater.

Defence Minister AK Antony has congratulated the team of scientists involved in the tests.

Launch from a submarine and integration of the three types of capabilities will mean completion of the nuclear triad, which is available only with a few countries like the US, France, Russia and China.

The submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) is being readied for deployment on various platforms including the around 6,000-tonne indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant which will soon be ready for sea trials, sources said.

The missile is part of the family of underwater missiles being developed by DRDO for the Indian strategic forces' underwater platforms. The DRDO has already developed the BO5 missile, which can strike targets at a range of around 700 km. — PTI
Declassify Henderson Brooks' report
The tactics employed in 1962 have no relevance today
Kuldip Nayar
I was a correspondent of The Times, published from London, when Neville Maxwell was its South Asia correspondent. He operated from New Delhi and we often discussed matters concerning India and other countries, particularly China.

That he was anti-India would be an understatement. His hatred towards the country was patent in his dispatches. For example, he wrote after the second general election in 1957 that it was the last poll of the country because democracy was not suited to India's genius.

I have not seen any of his writings to admit that his reading was incorrect. He reminded me at times of British die-hards who exploited India to make their country rich and indulged in unspeakable atrocities to keep us a colony. Both Maxwell and I often compared India's development with China's. Otherwise progressing democracy, he praised China's authoritarian regime. He honestly believed that it was India which attacked China and therefore titled his book as "India's war on China".

The utility of the book was the reproduction of certain portions of the report by Henderson Brooks, appointed by the government to probe reasons for India's debacle in the 1962 war against China. He reportedly blamed New Delhi, particularly Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, for "shoving" India into a war against China when the former had not provided shoes to the soldiers who were moved from Kashmir to face the Chinese.

I was then the Press Secretary to Home Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and knew his unhappiness over the building up of China's Premier Chou En-Lai by Nehru. The latter introduced him to the world figures and took him to Bandung at the first non-alignment conference. That Nehru was never the same after the defeat and died early because he felt personally betrayed. Although Sardar Patel had warned him through a letter not to trust China which would one day attack India, Nehru was obsessed by a Socialist country and he, to his grief, could not transform India into that mould.

Maxwell has released part of the report by Henderson Brooks. I am inclined to believe that he has done so to give some mileage to the anti-Congress forces. That Nehru did not prepare the country and misjudged the Chinese designs is an open secret. I have had a long interview with Gen P.N. Thapar, the then Chief of the Army Staff. He had given in writing that India would face defeat if there was a war between India and China. General Thapar submitted a long note for the procurement of weapons and raising more troops. Nehru told him that the note was never put up to him.

New Delhi went into the disputed areas to establish its claim. I remember the former Home Secretary, B.N. Jha, telling me that it was "a bright idea" of B.N. Mullick, the Director of Intelligence, to establish police posts "wherever we could," even behind the "Chinese lines", so as to "register our claim" on the territory. "But," then he said, "Mullick does not realise that these isolated posts with no support from the back will fall like ninepins as soon as the Chinese push forward. We are unnecessarily exposing the policemen to death. Frankly, this is the job of the Army, but since they have refused to man the posts until full logistic support is provided, we have placed the policemen."

The posts run in a zigzag line; 41 of them were established, a few policemen here and a few of them there, sometimes like islands in the multitude of Chinese predators. The massive Chinese attack and our puny efforts to cope with it were now plain for all to see.

The government decided to play down the news of reverses which was pouring in endlessly. It was treating it like the September 8 intrusion in NEFA (North-East Frontier Agency) which was officially described as the "appearance of some Chinese forces in the vicinity of one of our posts."

I remember the first time I heard of the Sino-Indian border dispute was in the Union Home Ministry in early 1957. I was complaining to a senior official about the East Pakistan border bristling with dangers. He feigned ignorance. But his one remark, even though cryptic, was significant. He said: "Why Pakistan alone? You will have trouble with China very soon." He did not elucidate, but in reply to my insistent queries, he did add that there were vague reports of China building a road through Sinkiang. The Ministry of External Affairs had been informed of the reports many times.

I still cannot understand why the government is keeping the Brooks' report as classified. The Defence Ministry's reasoning that the divulgence of the report would make public certain "tactics" which are still relevant. The tactics and even weapons employed in 1962 have no relevance today. A former Chief of the Army Staff, Gen V.P. Malik, has said that the 1962 operation is not relevant today. He has asked for the publication of the report.

But the Congress-led government is under the wrong perception that Nehru's image would be damaged and so would be that of the ruling party. Now that excerpts of the report are already on the Internet, the government sounds churlish and undemocratic when it insists on keeping the report secret. New Delhi is happy to lock the gate after the animals have bolted.

I vainly tried to get the report public. First, I approached the Defence Ministry, which said no. Ultimately, I tried to seek the report through the RTI (Right to Information). The matter went up to the top. But it rejected my plea. I have appealed to the High Court, which is sitting on the matter. After many years a brief reference came early last year when the judge remarked: "So you want all the country's secrets to be made public!" I wish there had been a decision on that. Unfortunately, there is none. The matter rests there and the government doggedly sticks to its archaic stand that the public has no right to know even after 52 years.
Ajnala — a precursor to Jallianwala Bagh
The site of Ajnala massacre is an important discovery in the history of India and deserves to be commemorated on a secular basis without going into outdated religious and ethnic prejudices
G.S. Aujla
“There is a well at Cawnpore, but there is one also at Ajnala.”

“Unconsciously the tragedy of Hollwell’s Black Hole had been re-enacted.”

“The crime was Mutiny and had there even been no murders to darken the memory of these men the law was exact. The punishment was death.”

The three quotations given above from the Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, Fredrick Cooper’s account of the happenings at Ajnala in Amritsar district during the 1857 Mutiny foreshadows Brigadier General Reginald Dyer’s carnage at Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar in April 1919. What is more shocking is that in the former case a civilian Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar, invested with the responsibility and good sense of a magistrate, himself presided over a massacre adding a shameful chapter of primordial barbarity to the annals of British Indian history. Relying on the official figures of causalities attributed to the Ajnala incident, one can easily discern that these were as enormous as the ones inflicted in Jallianwala Bagh. In the words of Cooper himself, “Thus within 48 hours from the date of crime there fell by the law nearly 500 men.” He had the temerity to say, “By the law” — a matter of shame for a magistrate.

The spread of Sepoy Mutiny

The army of East India Company, in the words of Phillip Mason, was ‘a mercenary army’ joined by the natives for “livelihood” and “social position”. It was not out of any loyalty to the British or the commercial interests of the Company that they were fighting their own countrymen in various parts of India.

The Sepoy Mutiny, as is widely known started from Barrackpore in Bengal with the revolt of 34th Regiment instigated by Mangal Pandey and spread from east to west like wildfire over the emotive issue of greased cartridges issued to the soldiers for the new muzzle-loading Enfield rifle which had recently replaced the “Brown Bess” hitherto in use in the Company’s army. To facilitate the loading of cartridges the ordnance factories used, apart from other material, tallow from beef and pork — abhorrent to the religious susceptibilities of both the Hindus and Muslims alike. Since the soldiers had to bite the grease on the cartridge before loading it they thought that this sacrilegious act would bring them, in the words of S.A. Abbot, “eternal perdition.”

Divide and rule at play

Since the East India Company mainly recruited soldiers from the upper castes of Oudh (recently annexed by the British), United Provinces and Bihar carrying the unwelcome sobriquet of poorbeahs, the Mutiny quite naturally infected the Punjab cantonments which they had occupied after their success in the two Anglo-Sikh Wars (1846-1849) The role of these troops in these wars was like a red rag to the Punjabi bull, specially the Sikhs who nursed a recent grouse against them for having captured the Lahore throne from them. The venue of the revolt of 26th Native Infantry and their escape route, ironically enough, lay through the Majha hinterland from where the soldiers of the Khalsa army were recruited for Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s formidable army, which after his death fought under the leadership of brave Generals like Sham Singh Attariwala. It was this hostility which was exploited by the British in quelling the Mutiny in Punjab. Major Edward John Lake sums up the situation in the following words “During the 1st Sutlej campaign when the Sikhs were engaged in a death struggle against us and attempted in vain to corrupt the poorbeah soldiers of our army who would have predicted that in 12 years the poorbeahs will become our deadliest enemies and the Sikhs our staunchest allies.” It was a welcome opportunity to use the British policy of “divide and rule”.

Riding the crest of such a sentiment, the British Deputy Commissioner Fredrick Cooper, assisted by a Hindu tehsildar Pran Nath and 50 Sikh soldiers, conducted the massacre at Ajnala. The Muslim sowars of Tiwana horse helped in rounding up the deserters and herding them together at one place. In short, all the three Punjabi communities were pitted against the mutineers.

Cold blooded killings

The decision to inflict death penalty on the deserters was starkly dismissive of the fact that 26th Native Infantry — consisting of 940 soldiers and commanded by 11 Europeans had already been disarmed much earlier than their desertion from the Mean Meer cantonment of Lahore. The killing of Major Spencer, grievous injury to Lt Montague White and the killing of Sergeant Major with sharp cutting weapons was sought to provide justification for the extermination of more than 500 soldiers. That the whole tragedy was conducted by the District Magistrate makes the incident all the more savage and condemnable. The Mutiny records describe the conduct of mutineers as “treason” and an offence against the “state”. It appears strange how the East India Company could arrogate itself to the status of a legitimate sovereign “state.”

Testimonials from rulers

What is even more despicable and alien to human sense of justice is the fact that the mass execution was endorsed by Sir John Lawrence, Chief Commissioner of Punjab. A letter dated 2nd August. 1957 written by him reads as follows:

My dear Cooper,
“I congratulate you on your success against the 26th NI. You and your police acted with much energy and spirit and deserve well of the state. I trust the fate of these sepoys will operate as a warning to others. Every effort should be exercised to glean up all those who are at large” — John Lawrence

The demi-official letter from Chief Judicial Commissioner of Punjab Robert Montgomery was equally laudatory. It read:-

My dear Cooper,
“All honour to you for what you have done and right well you did it. It will be a feather in your cap as long as you live. The other three regiments were shaky yesterday but I hardly think they will now go. I wish they would as they are a nuisance not a man would escape if they do.” — Robert Montgomery

Since all the Trans-Sutlej and Cis-Sutlej princes were on the side of the British, one is not surprised by the following letter which Maharaja Randheer Singh of Kapurthala wrote on 4th August, 1957:

My dear Cooper,
“I consider it a fit occasion to drop a line or two in the way of congratulating you for the triumphant return you have made of the disarmed sepoys of 26th NI. You have certainly made a very good impression on the mind of the disaffected troops in Punjab.” — Randheer Singh

Now that a lot of water has flowed down the bridge and India is a free country for the past 67 years the recovery of the remains of the massacre of Indian soldiers opens a sad chapter. The site of Ajnala massacre is an important discovery in the history of India and deserves to be commemorated on a secular basis without going into outdated religious and ethnic prejudices.

Where it stands now

It is a matter of satisfaction that some altruistic residents of Ajnala, under the guidance of a research scholar and conservationist Surinder Kochhar, took upon themselves the onerous task of demarcating the site of the well and undertaking extensive excavation to recover the evidence of a great tragedy. The recovered articles consist of skulls and bones, coins, medals and some pieces of jewellery. The coins recovered appear to be the savings of poor soldiers from their meagre salaries which they carried on their person. It may be worthwhile to undertake research in military archives in India and the U.K. to identify the names of the soldiers killed.

Meanwhile, a commemorative gallery needs to be constructed to exhibit all the articles recovered from site. The well, from where this ghastly tragedy unfolded, does not have proper access. It should be connected through a wide road so that any visitor who wants to come to this site should also have access to the old tehsil, a portion of which was used to suffocate 45 mutineers, making it another Black Hole in the history of India. The public-spirited local citizens, who spent out of their own pockets to undertake excavation work, need to be rewarded for their sincere efforts.

Tragic facts

    Mortal remains of around 100 soldiers found in a well in Ajnala.
    The well was called 'Kaalon ka Kuan' by the villagers.
    The remains included 50 skulls and 40 jaws, teeth, 47 one rupee coins of the East Indian Company, besides golden jewellery and other goods.
    Around 282 Indian soldiers were thrown into the well on August 1, 1857.
    The homicide was perpetrated by Frederick Henry Cooper, the then Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar, and Colonel James George Smith Neill, noted for hatred and his ruthless killing of Indians.
Know about Indian Army’s mysterious Operation Leech
‘Operation Leech’ has remained one of those mysteries from the murky world of intelligence, where ruthless killings and double agents aren’t unheard of.

On February 12, 1998, the Indian Army claimed in New Delhi that it has busted a massive gun-running racket by the Burmese army, and further claimed to have recovered arms worth over a million dollars.

They claimed it was the largest seizure of arms after the Purulia arms drop of December 1995.

Operation Leech is the name given to an armed operation on the Indo-Burmese border in 1998. As the major player in South Asia, India always sought to promote democracy and install friendly governments in the region.

To these ends, India’s external intelligence agency, R&AW, cultivated Burmese rebel groups and pro-democracy coalitions, especially the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). India allowed the KIA to carry a limited trade in jade and precious stones using Indian territory and even supplied them with weapons.

However, with increasing bonhomie between the Indian government and the Burmese junta, KIA became the main source of training and weapons for all northeastern rebel groups in India.

Sources say that the Arakan Army was being aided by India, and the principal contact with them was Colonel VS ‘Gary’ Grewal. However, sources in intelligence also confirmed that Grewal may have double-crossed India and worked at the behest of Burmese military junta to carry out ‘Operation Leech’.

Grewal was the leader of the military group, including naval and coast guard ships and helicopters, that carried out the operation.

According to intelligence inputs, Grewal is presently trading in Burmese precious stones in the neighbouring country and also thoroughly enjoying the Burmese military junta’s hospitality Once the truth emerged, then defence minister George Fernandes ordered a CBI inquiry into the entire operation.

The CBI request for access to Grewal was repeatedly turned down by then Army chief General VP Malik, and later Grewal built up a case and left on premature retirement from the Army. After the operation, 34 of the arrested rebels were kept in Campbell Bay, later shifted to Port Blair and are now in the Presidency Jail in Kolkata.

A team of human right activists led by Advocate Nandita Haksar took up the case of the Burmese and Advocate T Vasantha agreed to provide assistance to the team. She was murdered in 2004, and CISF commandant KC Suresh Kumar has been arrested in the murder case.

Kumar was then with the Intelligence Bureau in Port Blair, and was arrested on March 7 for the murder of Vasantha.
The Governer General's Files: Past forward policy

Lately, the Henderson Brooks report on the Sino-Indian War of 1962 has been much in the news. Facts leading to the debacle need to be stated before going into the details of this report. After the Communist Revolution, Mao Zedong became the supreme leader of China in 1948. In 1950, the Chinese intervened in Korea and moved into Tibet. Jawaharlal Nehru was one of our great stalwarts of the freedom movement and the architect of democracy in our county.

An iconic leader loved by the masses, he was a visionary who believed in world peace and tried to play the role of a modern Ashok. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, being a realist, clearly saw the threat posed by the Chinese presence in Tibet. A month before he passed away, he wrote to Nehru — on November 7, 1950 — that China was “concentrating for an onslaught on Tibet.

The final action of the Chinese, in my judgment, is little short of perfidy”. Nehru ignored this warning. He went out of his way to befriend China, advocating its membership of the United Nations and even declining the offer made to India of a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, saying that it should go to Communist China.

Paniker, our ambassador in China, functioned more as China’s ambassador to India than India’s to China. Defence minister Krishna Menon, whom many said had pronounced Communist leanings in his early days, was abrasive with Service Chiefs and played favourites within the Services undermining discipline. The defence industry was producing coffee makers instead of defence weapons and equipment. Bhola Nath Mullik, the legendary intelligence chief, was Nehru’s Man Friday.

He went horribly wrong on two counts. First, the Chinese will not take any action against India’s Forward Policy. Second, the Chinese Air Force could bomb Indian cities from airfields in Tibet, when they did not then have this capability to do so. Thus, it was decided not to use our Air Force for offensive operations in support of the Army. As for military advice, reliance was put on B.M. Kaul, an officer from logistic branch, with no combat experience or background.

Ignoring the recommendation of Gen. K.S. Thimayya, the then Army Chief, Kaul was promoted lieutenant-general in 1960. In 1962, he was appointed to the key combat command for conduct of operations against the Chinese in the East. Nehru justified this appointment in Parliament, saying that Kaul was the most outstanding general of the Indian Army. Lt. Gen. Thorat, the Eastern Army Commander till 1961, had made out a realistic plan for defence in the Northeast based on the road head at Bomdi-la. This plan was ignored.

In pursuit of the Forward Policy, troops were sent up to Namka Chu river, three weeks’ journey by foot beyond Bomdi-la, without necessary logistic support. Gen. Thapar, who took over as Army Chief in 1961, was a pliant Chief. He accepted the unsound Forward Policy and even executed the order to throw the Chinese out of the Himalayas without question.

All this was an ideal setting for a Greek tragedy. A debacle became inevitable. Napoleon wrote that a general-in-chief who carries out orders that he feels are wrong must represent and get them changed. If this is not accepted, he must resign, otherwise he should be held guilty for the consequences. Nehru proved to be a poor war leader in the 1962 war.

In the Dunkirk debacle of 1940, the British field army was decimated and Britain was left without any ally. Churchill thundered in the House of Commons in June 1940: “… We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” In November 1962, the bulk of the Indian Army was intact and the US was supporting India. Yet Nehru broadcast in despair: “My heart goes out to the people of Assam.” He accepted the Chinese offer of a humiliating unilateral ceasefire.

Lt. Gen. Henderson Brooks and Brig. P.S. Bhagat were commissioned to inquire into the causes of this great debacle. Their top secret report was not released by the government for over 60 years. The report got leaked and parts revealed by Neville Maxwell in his book, India’s China War, published in 1970. He has now reportedly downloaded portions of the report on the Internet when election fever is at its peak in India. The political parties have shown maturity by not making this into much of an electoral issue. The government has now released some portions of the report and is still holding on to some portions. It is ridiculous that it has even threatened to take legal action against Maxwell if he visits India.

The reasons for the worst debacle in the history of the Indian Army are too well known. These are neglect of defence preparedness, collapse of political and military leadership, sidelining of the military in decision-making, lack of élan among military officers, and foreign and defence policies not being in sync.
The threat from China in the Himalayas continues and has become even greater. Yet we have failed to sufficiently overcome our shortcomings of 1962. Acquisition of modern weaponry has been unpardonably slow and so also the development of infrastructure in border areas.

A.K. Antony has been the defence minister for nearly 10 years. He may have preserved his lily-white reputation for integrity but has damaged the functioning of his ministry. The pace of improving our defence capability has been deplorably slow. The state of civil-military operations in the ministry has never been as bad as during his tenure.

He dithered over effectively dealing with open defiance of an Army Chief for nearly a year causing much damage to the Service. At the same time, he was excessively quick in accepting the resignation of a forthright and much respected Naval Chief who has provided a unique instance of accepting moral responsibility. After two months there would be a new government in power at the Centre and a new defence minister in office.
Let us hope that they rise to the occasion and provide the nation an effective and impregnable defence shield.

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