Secret report on India-China war in 1962 made public
CHENNAI : A section of the confidential Henderson Brooks report that critically reviewed India’s defence preparedness and strategies during the 1962 war with China has been released online by Australian journalist Neville Maxwell.
While the report may not contain significantly new revelations about the poor state of India’s forces during the war, it discusses “how the Army was ordered to challenge the Chinese military to a conflict it could only lose,” according to Maxwell, a retired foreign correspondent who was based in Delhi at the time of the war.
The report was authored by Lieutenant General Henderson Brooks and Brigadier P S Bhagat, then commandant of the Indian Military Academy, soon after the war. It was commissioned by Lt General J N Chaudhuri who had just taken over as chief of Army staff in 1962.
It continues to be considered classified by the Indian government.As late as April 2010, defence minister AK Antony told Parliament that the contents of the report are “not only extremely sensitive but are of current operational value.”Maxwell, who wrote a controversial account of the reasons that led to India’s defeat in his work, India’s China War, says on his website that he has always had access to the report and had waited for it to be declassified. He says he has now decided to put a large part of the report in the public domain because of India’s unwillingness to release it.
While the Nehru government’s forward policy has been widely analyzed and criticized as being a contributor, Maxwell says on his website that the report holds India’s first prime minister personally responsible for the war. “The reasons for the long-term withholding of the report must be political, indeed probably partisan, perhaps even familial,” says Maxwell.
The report may provide cannon fodder for the BJP to attack Congress and beef up its campaign for a strong India under the leadership of Narendra Modi. Congress analysts are likely to dismiss the contents since it may not be revelatory, but harp on the progress India has made since then.