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Amarinder Singh for declassifying 1962 India-China war report
Monday January 19, 2015 2:30 PM, Anurag Dey, IANS

Notwithstanding the fact that it apparently indicts late prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru for India's military defeat in the 1962 war with China, Congress MP and former army captain Amarinder Singh has called for the release of the Henderson-Brooks report.

"The report should have been out a long time ago. When reports on Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka or the 1965 war are out, then why are we sitting on 1962?" Amarinder Singh told IANS.

"If you want to protect some politicians or some army generals, then it is unfortunate. One learns from experiences and it should be out so that the people may know what actually happened," he said during the Kolkata launch of his latest book "Honour and Fidelity: India's Military Contribution to the Great War 1914-1918".

The former Punjab chief minister said there was a consensus among political parties to oppose the declassification of the report that has remained a state secret for the past 50 years.

"There is a consensus among political parties of opposing its release. I have written on the 1962 war and I do not think there is anything that needs to be covered up. If somebody has made a mistake at the political level or at the military level, it should be out for the public to know," he said.

Jointly authored by Lt. Gen. T.B. Henderson Brooks and Brigadier P.S. Bhagat, the report squarely blames the then Nehru government and the military leadership for India's crushing defeat.

Portions of the classified report, which clinically analysed the military defeat, were uploaded online by Australian author and journalist Neville Maxwell who was the India correspondent of the Times, London, in New Delhi during the war and had extensively written on it.

Incidentally, the BJP, which had clamoured for its release during the Lok Sabha poll campaigns, made a volte face after assuming power.

Arun Jaitley, who as Leader of Opposition had strongly advocated making the report public, later as the defence minister, in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha in July, said the release of the report would not be in national interest.

"It's a mistake, the government should make it public," Amarinder Singh said on the Narendra Modi government's decision to keep classified the controversial report.

Amarinder Singh, whose latest book brings out the massive military contribution of Indian soldiers and how it changed the tide of the war for the British who were struggling, expressed his anguish over India's failure to give recognition to the country's World War I heroes.

"It's sad and unfortunate that India so far has not recognised the contributions of 140,000 soldiers who were killed or injured in the war. When the world is commemorating the centenary of the war, it's high time India shuns its thinking that we fought for the English and honour our soldiers who fought bravely against all odds," he said.

A former army officer from a regiment that participated in the war, Amarinder Singh has vividly chronicled the actions of the forgotten men, bringing alive the battlefields stretching from France to East Africa, Mesopotamia, Palestine and Gallipoli.

Having already chronicled about the 1999 Kargil war in his book "A Ridge Too Far", his next offering deals with the 1965 India-Pakistan war.

"This year, it will be the 50th year of India's 1965 war with Pakistan and my next book is on that. I hope to launch the book on Sep 6, the day when the war started exactly 50 years ago," said Amarinder Singh, who had served as an army captain during the war.

Talking about Pakistan's repeated ceasefire violations, Amarinder Singh said India's armed forces have always given a befitting reply, but called on the Modi government to initiate dialogues with the neighbour.

"The border firings by Pakistan are nothing new and they have been going on for long. When I was in the army, hardly a day passed when there was no firing.

"Indian forces have been doing a great job and the government should give full backing," said Amarinder Singh, who also served as minister of state in the external affairs ministry during 2009-2014.

"But I don't think talks with Pakistan should have been stopped. The dialogue should have been continued. After any war that has ever been fought, finally you came to the table. I think the dialogue should continue and I hope it is concluded in a proper manner," he said.

(Anurag Dey can be contacted at anurag.d@ians.in)


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