Henderson-Brooks report holds Bureaucracy for defeat in 1962 China WarIANS • March 19, 2014
New Delhi: There was a grave mismatch between the government and Army Headquarters in the days leading to the bruising 1962 Sino-Indian war that saw a crushing defeat of the Indian forces, a top-secret document on the conflict that has been posted online says.
“On the fact of it, there appears to be a situation which is hard to reconcile. The government who politically must have been keen to recover territory, advocated a cautious policy; whilst the Army Headquarters dictated a policy that was militarily unsound,” says the Henderson-Brooks that Australian journalist Neville Maxwell has posted online. Maxwell, who was the correspondent of The Times in New Delhi at the time of the conflict, has based his seminal work of the 1970s, India’s China War, in the report.
“There is, therefore, no doubt that the implementation of the Forward Policy (of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru) in the manner it was done, was carried out deliberately by Army Headquarters without the necessary backing as laid down by the government,” says the report, jointly authored by Lt. Gen Henderson-Brooks and Brigadier P.S. Bhagat.
“Review of the functioning of Army Headquarters, however, has not been dealt with on the advice of the Chief of the Army Staff,” the report notes.
Citing the extreme “sensitive nature” of the contents, the government Tuesday declined to comment on sections of a classified report on the 1962 India-China war that have been posted online.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party said the report should be released.
The report analysed the causes of India’s humiliating defeat in the 1962 border war against China and allegedly put the blame on the then government of prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the military leadership for India’s defeat.
In a statement, the defence ministry said it has “come across news reports which state that an Australian journalist, Neville Maxwell, has put out sections allegedly from the Henderson Brooks Report on the India-China conflict of 1962”.
“Given the extremely sensitive nature of the contents of the report, which are of current operational value, it is reiterated that the government of India has classified this report 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,” it said.
The online disclosure of the report came at an odd time for the government which is battling an aggressive opposition in the run up to Lok Sabha elections, which start early next month and continue in May.
BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said people had a right to know what went wrong and alleged that the country lost the war “because of Nehru.”
“What are they trying to hide by making the war report classified,” Prasad asked.