Home / Politics / Policy /  Report on India’s defeat in 1962 war revealed

New Delhi: For the first time in more than five decades after the India-China war, a famous report that details the reasons for India’s defeat at the hands of the Chinese in 1962 has been made public and it points a finger at officials and functionaries considered close to then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

The review, carried out by the then lieutenant general, T.B. Henderson Brooks, assisted by brigadier P.S. Bhagat, examines issues like training, equipment, physical fitness of the troops, the system of command and the capacity of commanders to lead their troops at all levels, among other issues.

The report was made public on Monday by Neville Maxwell, a former journalist at the London-based The Times, and the author of one of the most well known books on the war, India’s China War.

Attempts early on Tuesday to access the report were unsuccessful, leading to speculation that the Indian government had blocked it. J. Satyanarayana, secretary, department of electronics and information technology, declined to comment on this.

Mint has a copy of the report.

Coming as it does weeks before India goes to the polls to elect a new government, the disclosures set off a war of words between the ruling Congress party and the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The main opposition BJP attacked the Congress, saying it had compromised with security then, and was doing the same now; and the Congress retaliated accusing the BJP of playing “cheap politics" ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Trouble seems to have started brewing with Nehru’s “Forward Policy", under which he had issued instructions for the military to continue building military posts in areas claimed by the Chinese, while receiving assurances from then director of Intelligence Bureau, B.N. Mullick, that there would be no reaction from the Chinese.

According to the minutes of a meeting held in Nehru’s office in November 1961, Mullick was of the view that the “Chinese would not react to our establishing new posts and that they were not likely to use force against any of our posts even if they were in a position to do so..."

“This was contrary to the military intelligence appreciation," the report says. “It is obvious that politically the forward policy was desirable... what is pertinent is whether we were militarily in a position at that time to implement this policy."

The report notes that “militarily it is unthinkable that the General Staff did not advise the government about our weakness and inability to implement the ‘Forward Policy’."

On the role played by then chief of general staff, lieutenant general B.M. Kaul, the report is particularly damning.

“Had the developments…been correctly apprised by General Staff at Army HQs (headquarters) and correlated to NEFA (North East Frontier Agency, now Arunachal Pradesh), it is possible we would not have precipitated matters till we were better prepared for war," it says.

The report says “there might have been pressure" from the “defence ministry, but it was the duty" of General Kaul to have “pointed out the unsoundness of the ‘Forward Policy’ without the means to implement it."

The defence ministry on Tuesday refrained from commenting on the published reports. “Given the extremely sensitive nature of the report, which is of current operational value, it is reiterated that the government classified it as a top secret document and, as such, it would not be appropriate to comment on the contents uploaded by Neville Maxwell on the web," a defence ministry statement said.

Mint’s Aman Malik and Moulishree Srivastava and PTI contributed to this report.

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