Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Fwd: 1962 War records destroyed to cover up lapses

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From: Ravi
Date: Mon, Mar 31, 2014 at 10:30 PM
Subject: 1962 War records destroyed to cover up lapses


1962 War records destroyed to cover up lapses

Only one copy of the official history of India-China war exists. The battlefield records on which this heavily sanitised report is based, have been destroyed.

VISHAL THAPAR  New Delhi | 22nd Mar 2014

Operational records of the 1962 war at the Army Headquarters have been destroyed, highly-placed government sources disclosed to The Sunday Guardian. This strengthens suspicion of a systemic cover-up for lapses leading to the debacle in the war with China.

Both the Ministry of Defence and the Army declined to respond to queries by The Sunday Guardian on who authorised the destruction of these records.

"It is unusual, to put it mildly, for the Army to destroy operational records of a critical period of our military history," admits a top officer. Such records are considered invaluable for the purpose of drawing the right lessons and to institutionalise historical memory.

All units (battalions) involved in the war sent After Action Reports (AARs), recounting the operations and accounts of battles to the then General Staff Branch of Army Headquarters.

Such accounts of battles or operations are kept in the Military Operations Directorate. Those which are de-classified over a period of time are meant to be sent to the History Division of the Ministry of Defence.

Sources confirmed that an official history of the 1962 war has indeed been authored but is still classified as "Top Secret", and only one copy is kept under lock and key in the Military Operations Directorate at Army Headquarters. "This official history is a sanitised version of the events in the war, which is still a touchy subject," said a senior officer, who has worked in the Military Operations Directorate. But the battlefield records on which it is based have been destroyed.

The Henderson Brooks-P.S. Bhagat report is the only other surviving document on an operational review of the war. This report, which too continues to be kept under lock and key at the Military Operations Directorate, was recently posted on the web by Neville Maxwell, an Australian journalist who was posted as the New Delhi correspondent of the Times during the war. The report continues to be treated as "Top Secret" by the government, despite the public expose.

But even the Lt General Henderson Brooks-Brigadier P.S. Bhagat duo was not allowed access to the records at Army Headquarters even for an in-house operational review of the 1962 war. The political and Army leadership were clearly out of bounds. "Review of the functioning of Army Headquarters, however, has not been dealt with on the advice of the Chief of the Army Staff (General J.N. Chaudhuri in December 1962). Thus, perforce, the actions and developments at Army Headquarters have had to be traced from documents available at Command Headquarters.

"In this process, a number of loose ends concerning Army Headquarters could not be verified and have been left unanswered. The relationship between Defence Ministry and Army Headquarters and the directions given by the former to the latter could, therefore, also not be examined," Henderson Brooks and Bhagat acknowledge in their report.

It's also been disclosed in the report that no minutes of war room meetings chaired by the then Defence Minister Krishna Menon during the war were recorded.

The 1962 war has been such a touchy issue for the establishment to such an extent that Lt General P.S. Bhagat, the co-author of the report along with Lt General Henderson Brooks, was overlooked for appointment as Army chief after the retirement of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw. Bhagat was an extremely distinguished officer and a winner of the Victoria Cross, Britain's highest gallantry award.

It's not just the political establishment, but also the Army, which is touchy about the subject. "It was the Army, which vetoed the release of the Henderson Brooks-P.S. Bhagat report through RTI a few years ago after the N.N. Vohra Committee recommended the de-classification of this report and other war histories," pointed out a senior officer, while confirming that only Army Headquarters can authorise the destruction of such vital records.

The Army and the Ministry of Defence are silent on whether there's a policy for de-classification and destruction of war-time records.

sent from samsung galaxy note, so please excuse brevity

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