Operation Brasstacks was the army’s preparations for a war against Pakistan and not a military exercise, says Lieutenant General PN Hoon (retired), who was the then commander-in-chief of the Western Command. The revelation was made by the veteran during the launch of his book, “The Untold Truth”, on Saturday evening.
In the book, Lt Gen Hoon has revealed behind-the-scene politics of major operations and events that took place during his 40-year service in the army. While in one chapter, the author has called the Operation Blue Star a “botched-up operation”, in another chapter he has revealed that Operation Brasstacks was a “war against Pakistan”.
“I have written about operations I have been part of and no one else knows about till today,” said the author.
The chapter 9 of the book reveals the inside story of Operation Brasstacks. It was in peacetime in January 1987 that the Indian Army began moving to the western border carrying live ammunition. The citizens were told that it was an exercise. The book suggests that “it could only be a preparation for a war”
Talking about the operation, Lt Gen PN Hoon said, “Brasstacks was no military exercise, it was a plan to build up a situation for a fourth war with Pakistan. And what is even more shocking is that the then Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, was not aware of these plans of a war.”
The author said that it was General Sundarji’s (the then chief of army staff) and minister of state for defence Arun Singh’s plan to provoke Pakistan “into launching an offensive in Kashmir”.
“... an attack on Kashmir would be an attack on India and in the garb of the exercise that India was already conducting, India would go into a full-fledged war with Pakistan,” reads the chapter.
Lt Gen Hoon said that it was during a dinner party on January 15, 1987, (Army Day) that the PM came to know about the exercise.
“Rajiv Gandhi asked me, ‘How is the western front?’ To this I replied, “Mr Prime Minister, sir. The western army is in fine fettle and very soon I shall be past our battle stations and will give you Sind on one side and Lahore (Pakistan) on the other,”said the author.
“Rajiv was totally aghast and visibly angered. He left the party immediately. The PM did not want to go into a war. Hence, on January 20, Sundarji, pleaded me to stop moving forward,”he added.
When asked as to why Arun Singh and Sundarji would want a war while keeping the PM in the dark, Lt Gen Hoon said: “It was a power game. Sundarji wanted to become a Field Marshal and Arun Singh wanted to become the Prime Minister.”
Apart from these issues, the book reveals behind-the-scene politics when India was forced to take over Sikkim. The author has tried to expose the true nature of political mindset, which should have been protecting the economic, political and strategic interests of the country.
The author also reveals that how President Giani Zail Singh was planning to take the help of the army in dismissing Rajiv Gandhi. “The army had a role to play in the plans to dismiss Rajiv Gandhi. The conflict between the former President Giani Zail Singh and then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was well known by all. But what is still not known is the real politics that continued during the period and how army was involved in all this,” mentions the book.