The NDA government’s position on the controversial Henderson-Brooks committee report on the reasons behind India’s humiliating defeat in the 1962 India-China war turns out to be the same as the previous UPA’s.
In a written reply in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, defence minister Arun Jaitley said the release of the “top secret document” would not be in national interest. The government ruled out the possibility of any information related to the report being released fully or partially.
Australian journalist Neville Maxwell had made portions of the report public in March, triggering a fresh round of debate on India’s worst military defeat and the events that led to it. The BJP had then demanded that the report, authored by Lieutenant General Henderson Brooks and Brigadier PS Bhagat be declassified immediately.
Maxwell had written on his website that he was making the report public as he wanted to end his complicity in keeping it a secret. The report was leaked 13 years after the government had appointed a committee under former defence secretary NN Vohra to look into publication of war histories.
The only war record to have been declassified so far relates to the 1947-48 Kashmir operations. It was published four decades later in 1987.
Hearing an RTI plea on the sinking of INS Khukri during the 1971 India-Pakistan war, the Central Information Commission (CIC) had whacked the government in January 2008 for being obsessed with confidentiality. The defence ministry was asked to outline its declassification policy for releasing information to the public.
The Khukri saga was immortalised after its commanding officer, Capt Mahender Mulla, refused to abandon the ship and remained seated in the captain’s chair till she sank with 18 officers and 178 sailors. Mulla was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra.