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Henderson Brooks report on 1962 Sino-Indian War not being declassified to save political skin: Capt Amarinder

He said the report should have been made public long back.

chandigarh Updated: Dec 09, 2017 13:31 IST
Yojana Yadav
Yojana Yadav
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Sino-Indian War,Henderson Brooks report,Capt Amarinder
(From right) Lt Gen A Mukherjee, Brig MS Gill, Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, The Tribune editor-in-chief Harish Khare, Brig IS Gakhal and Maj Gen Shivdev Singh at the Military Literature Festival 2017 at Lake Club in Chandigarh on Friday.(Anil Dayal/HT)

Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh was a fauji first at the Military Literature Festival here on Friday when he minced no words, saying that the Henderson Brooks report on the Sino-Indian War of 1962 was not being declassified “only to save political skin”.

“The Henderson Brooks-Prem Bhagat report should have been made public long back. It is an open secret. It has not been declassified only to save political skin,” Capt Amarinder said.

“After the government order, the defence minister (Krishna Menon) was literally shifting platoons. There was a compliant corps commander who didn’t give brigade commander Hoshiar Singh a chance to fight. It was not the army fighting, it was a faulty government policy at work,” said Capt Singh, who was wearing his medals. He was commissioned in 2 Sikh Regiment in 1963.

He was interacting with veteran journalist Vir Sanghvi and military historians Thomas Fraser, Alan Jefferys, Lt Gen TS Shergill (retd) and Ed Haynes at a panel discussion.

Asked about India’s provocative foreign policy in 1962 despite no preparedness, Lt Gen Shergill said, “It was the lack of understanding by the government on what it takes besides the lack of spine of certain officers to admit what can’t be done.”

There was unanimity among the panellists that then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru “died a disappointed man”. Then defence minister Krishna Menon and he had clearly misread the situation despite intelligence inputs as far back as 1959 that China was planning an offensive.


Lt Gen Shergill said that military history has taught that only a force that endures can win. “The perception is that military history is written by the winner but who is the winner in a counter-insurgency situation? There is no clear winner or loser. The lexicon of conflict is changing and caution should be exercised in usage of terms,” he said.

Asked who had won the 1965 India-Pakistan war, Capt Amarinder Singh said, “It was more or less a draw. We had no ammo left and if it continued any longer, we’d be fighting each other with stones. It was a pathetic situation. India may have gained territorially but it was a negligible gain.”


The chief minister denied any politicisation in the armed forces but declined comment on political interference.

“The forces are disciplined and will always be,” he said.

Like most participants at the session, Capt Singh agreed that unlike the past, today’s youth were not drawn to a career in the armed forces. “It is a concern that many don’t want to join the forces and we need to find out why,” he said.

‘All for one-year military training for politicians’

Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh prescribed one-year military training for all those seeking to fight an election.

“Yes, all MLAs should be put through military training. Only then will our politicians and leaders know how to treat soldiers and the armed forces,” he said to applause.

First Published: Dec 09, 2017 09:15 IST