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A controversial report that blames India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru for the defeat in the 1962 Indo-China war was made public by Australian journalist Neville Maxwell on Tuesday. The Henderson Brooks report – still classified 'top secret' by the government—blames Nehru's policies for India's worst military defeat, HT has learnt.
The leak, coming a month before the general elections, couldn't have come at a worse time for the ruling Congress. The BJP –which has already made dynastic rule by the Nehru-Gandhi family a poll issue – demanded that the report be declassified immediately.
"What are they trying to hide by making the war report classified?" asked BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad.
"We have a right to know what went wrong. We lost the war because of Nehru," he added.
The Congress reacted sharply with party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi criticizing the BJP for "cheap allegations". Much more politics could be done with the Kargil war that happened during the NDA rule, Singhvi said.
The BJP also attacked Nehru's leadership skills, comparing them to India's first home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, whose tough image and supposed opposition to Nehru has been made a poll issue by BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi.
Refusing comment on the issue, the defence ministry said, "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 a 'Top Secret' document and it won't be appropriate to comment on the contents uploaded by Neville Maxwell."
The report – prepared by Lt Gen Henderson Brooks and Brig P S Bhagat on the instructions of then Chief of Army Staff Gen J N Chaudhuri -- blames Nehru's "Forward Policy", saying it was against military logic, HT has learnt.
Under the policy, Nehru instructed the military to build military posts in disputed areas. He was supported by Lt Gen BN Kaul and director of the Intelligence Bureau BN Mullick, who assured Nehru that the Chinese won't react adversely.
It is believed that Lt Gen Kaul – who was Chief of General Staff before the war and commander of IV Corps in the Northeast later – is blamed in the report for taking action that precipitated the war. His actions, it is believed, are called the product of a militarily immature mind.
Maxwell – who has also written a book based on the report – wrote on his website that he was making the report public as he wanted to end his complicity in keeping it a secret. The government has repeatedly resisted attempts – some as late as last year -- to de-classify the report.