'Incorrect maps given to China led to 1962 war' | delhi | Hindustan Times
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'Incorrect maps given to China led to 1962 war'

delhi Updated: Oct 22, 2012 01:26 IST
Sanjib Kr Baruah

India presented contradictory maps on the MacMohan Line to China in the fifties and in 1960-61, which ultimately led to the war with China in 1962. This revelation was made by Wajahat Habibullah, former chief information commissioner (CIC), perhaps the only civilian besides defence secretaries to have officially accessed the top secret Henderson Brookes-Bhagat report.

"We had given maps with serious contradictions on the layout of the MacMohan Line to China. This led the Chinese to believe that one of the pickets being controlled by our forces in the Northeast was theirs-according to one of the maps given to them by us," said Habibullah, declining to name the picket along the Arunachal Pradesh border with China.

Accordingly, on October 20, 1962, the Chinese army crossed over to occupy the border picket, leading to open hostilities.

The 890-km-long MacMohan Line, laid down by the British in 1914, demarcates the border between Indian and China - although this is still contested by the latter.

Lieutenant general Henderson Brooks and brigadier Prem Bhagat compiled the Henderson Brooks-Bhagat report in 28 volumes in 1963, outlining the reasons for the defeat at the hands of the Chinese in 1962.

Stating that he still believes the report should not be declassified, Habibullah said: "From 1962, the deployment of our armed forces has not substantially changed in these areas. So, declassifying will lead to supplying the Chinese with defence information."

"Moreover the report on the role of the Indian army is so scathing that it would have a demoralising effect on the forces even now," said Habibullah.

There are only two copies of the report in existence-one with the defence secretary and the other with Chinese top officials.

Habibullah got the go-ahead to access to the report after journalist Kuldip Nayar's appeal under the RTI Act in 2005 to get a copy of the report.