Published On: Wed, Mar 19th, 2014

THE GUILTY MAN OF 1962 WAR : Pundit Nehru

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In what may open up a new debate, a part of the classified Henderson Brooks report on the 1962 Sino-India war has been made public by an Australian journalist. The report, which was revealed online by former journalist Neville Maxwell, had critically reviewed the country’s defense preparedness and strategies during the 1962 war, which India lost to China.  The section of the report, put online by Maxwell who was working out of Delhi during the war, talks about “how the (Indian) Army was ordered to challenge the Chinese military to a conflict it could only lose”.

The report, which was prepared by Lieutenant General Henderson Brooks and Brigadier PS Bhagat, the then commandant of the Indian Military Academy, talks about the poor state of India’s forces during the war. While the report does not bring to light any new findings about the war, it does, as per Maxwell, hold India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru personally responsible for the conflict.

The report is highly critical of Nehru’s “Forward Policy” that was aimed at countering the Chinese troops, saying it was ordered “without the means to implement it effectively”. “Decisions at the highest level were taken without any military appreciation, and no overall plan was made to (prepare) for a major Chinese reaction,” it says.

The report also lashed out at the Army for failing to provide credible ground assessment to the government. “Militarily, it is unthinkable that the general staff did not advise the government on our weaknesses and inability to implement the forward policy.” The Army “could have put its foot down and prevented the execution of a militarily unsound policy”,

In the past, the Nehru government has been held responsible for the defeat which India suffered at the hands of China. But the report for the first time holds Nehru guilty for the blunder.

The report, to date, has been withheld by the Indian government calling it “classified”. Defence Minister AK Antony had in April 2010 said in Parliament that the report’s contents are “not only extremely sensitive but are of current operational value.”

Reacting to the development, the BJP has hit out at the Congress, saying there were “worrying similarities” in the manner the armed forces were handled by the UPA government and by the then Nehru government.

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