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Atul Patankar

Make Chinese aggression report public: CIC

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Atul Patankar

As reported by special correspondent at www.assamtribune.com on January, 31 2009

NEW DELHI, Jan 30 – Forty-seven years after the Chinese aggression, the reasons for India’s defeat may finally become public, with the Chief Information Commissioner, Wajahat Habibullah asking the Ministry of Defence why the Henderson Brooks report could not be made public. Addressing a ‘meet the press programme’ organised by Press Association, a body of Accredited Correspondents of Government of India, the CIC said that in response to a Right To Information application filed by Kuldip Nayar, he has written to the Defence Ministry to explain on what grounds information on this could be withheld.


The CIC wondered why the Indo-China conflict has been kept a top secret even after 40 years of the Chinese aggression of 1962. What calamity would take place, if this information is released, asked Habibullah.


Columnist and writer Kuldip Nayar is trying to bring out the information, he added.


On October 20, 1962, China’s People’s Liberation Army invaded India with overwhelming force on two separate flanks - in the west in Ladakh, and in the east across the McMahon Line in the then North-East Frontier Agency.


An Anglo-Indian general called Henderson Brooks was requested to go through the official records and prepare a report on the war. Sometime in 1963, the General presented his study to Nehru and a couple of his ministers. The report was immediately classified as ‘Top Secret’.


The report continues to remain classified so even till today. Forty years later, nobody has still seen the report. That is, except for one person: a British foreign correspondent named Neville Maxwell.


The CIC further held the government responsible for not bringing enough awareness about the RTI Act. The Government has not done much to create awareness about the Act, he commented.

Source : The Assam Tribune Online

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Atul Patankar

As reported by Iftikhar Gilani of www.dailytimes.com.pk on January 31, 2009


India might reveal its 1962 war history

By Iftikhar Gilani


NEW DELHI: India may make its war history public soon. Indian Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Wajahat Habibullah on Friday disclosed that he was hearing an appeal filed by noted journalist Kuldeep Nayyar to make the Henderson Brooks Report of 1962 India-China war public.


Habibullah, who enjoys enormous powers under the revolutionary Right to Information Act (RTI), has asked the Defence Ministry to submit the war report to the information commission to let it decide whether it could be made public. Habibullah told reporters that people in Indian-held Kashmir (IHK) needed to enjoy the same liberties available to the rest of Indian. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has to its credit piloting two revolutionary laws the RTI and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) during its five-year tenure. But unlike the NREGS, the CIC believes the government was making no efforts to publicize the RTI Act. The CIC admitted that in the countryside or even the educated class in big cities was not aware about their rights under the RTI.

Source : Daily Times - Leading News Resource of Pakistan

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In a recent order CIC hs denied the disclosure of the "Henderson-Brooks Report" on the 1962 war with China.


But the whole matter has a strange story attached to it - something that appellants and complainants face everyday with the CIC:


Name of Applicant: Mr. Kuldip Nayar, Journalist and Ex MP

Date of RTI Application: 7-12-2005

PIO's reply date: 7-2-2006

Complaint to CIC Date: 18-2-2006 (Not Registered in CIC)

First Reminder to CIC: 14-8-2007 (CIC WH makes noting to treat it as a complaint)

No Action taken by Registry

Second reminder to CIC: 15-10-2007 (Jt. Registrar notes "urgently")

Third reminder to CIC: 15-2-2008 (No reply from CIC)

Fourth reminder to CIC: 4-4-2008 (addressed personally to CIC WH)

Interim order: 6-11-2008

Second hearing: 22-1-2009

Final hearing/Inspection of report: 7-3-2009


CIC has denied disclosure:




We have examined the report specifically in terms of its bearing on present national security. There is no doubt that the issue of the India-China Border particularly along the North East parts of India is still a live issue with ongoing negotiations between the two countries on this matter. The disclosure of information of which the Henderson Brooks report carries considerable detail on what precipitated the war of 1962 between India and China will seriously compromise both security and the relationship between India & China, thus having a bearing both on internal and external security. We have examined the report from the point of view of severability u/s 10(1). For reasons that we consider unwise to discuss in this Decision Notice, this Division Bench agrees that no part of the report might at this stage be disclosed.


CIC had also asked the Registrar on the "internal failures" in the Commission because of which the Complaint was not registered and even the CIC WH's note was ignored and not acted upon.


Even till 19.03 2009 (the date of issue of the order/decision) the Registrar had not made and submitted the report.


CIC has given him another 7 days to submit the report.


This just shows, that leave alone appellants/complainants like the General Public, the staff of the CIC does not even care about what their own boss says !


It will be worth watching what "view he takes as the CIC"


(Please refer to: http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/14910-gandhis-monkeys.html)

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As reported by zeenews.com on 21 March 2009:

Henderson-Brooks report on Indo-China war still classified: CIC

Henderson-Brooks report on Indo-China war still classified: CIC


New Delhi, March 21: The Henderson-Brooks report, an analysis of the 1962 Indo-China war, will remain confidential as the CIC has ruled against its disclosure under the RTI Act "at this stage".


A bench of Central Information Commission comprising Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah and Information Commissioner M L Sharma said in its order -- "this division bench agrees that no part of report might at this stage be disclosed."


Former Rajya Sabha MP Kuldip Nayar had sought the report, which was submitted three decades ago to the government, from the Defence Ministry under the RTI Act but was refused saying that the report was classified and contained information which was sensitive.


The CIC examined the report "specifically in terms of its bearing of present national security."


"There is no doubt that the issue of India-China Border particularly along the North-East parts of India is still a live issue with the ongoing negotiations between the two countries on this matter," the CIC observed.


The Commission found that the report, which carried "considerable" detail of what precipitated the war between India and China, will seriously compromise both security and relationship between the two countries.

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As reported in hindu.com on 24 March 2009:

The Hindu News Update Service


CIC official registers former MP's complaint after two years


New Delhi (PTI): In a blatant disregard to their chief's order, officials of the Central Information Commission did not register the complaint of a Rajya Sabha MP even after repeated instructions from Wajahat Habibullah himself.


Terming the non-registration of the complaint as "internal failure", Chief Information Commissioner Habibullah has ordered the Registrar of the commission to complete the pending enquiry on the matter by March 31 and file a report before him.


"...the report expected from Registrar on the internal failure in processing Kuldip Nayar's complaint in the Commission has not thus far been submitted. He will now ensure its submission within seven working days of the date of issue of the Decision Notice," Mr. Habibullah said in his order.


Former Rajya Sabha member Kuldip Nayar, in December 2005, had demanded Henderson Brooks report, an analysis of the 1962 Indo-China war, from the Ministry of Defence. After two months, Mr. Nayar was informed that document is confidential and could not be provided to him under the RTI Act.


Mr. Nayar moved a complaint before CIC on February 18, 2006 with the prayer that "the matter might be sensitive at a particular time ... but not after 44 years." But the officials did not register it.

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Atul Patankar

Editorial at www.expressbuzz.com on 31 March 2009


How far we remain from the mindset of a culture where the people’s right to know what was done in their name is taken as basic, has just come from the Central Information Commission.


This is the ultimate appellate authority for enforcing the national Right to Information (RTI) Act. And it has, the other day, upheld the right of the government and the army to suppress the facts about the 1962 war with China.


After that disaster, Prime Minister Nehru promised an inquiry “to find out what mistakes were committed and who were responsible”. The Henderson-Brooks probe, as it was known after its chairman, a serving lieutenant general, gave its report in months. The government declined to publish it and so has each government since then; a query on the subject is tabled in Parliament almost each year, to be met with a firm refusal on the grounds of ‘public interest’. This latest appeal to the CIC (on an RTI request made as far back as 2005) would, if successful, jeopardise both national security and the 25-year-old talks with China on border demarcation, the defence ministry told the CIC. In its order, the latter agreed, “for reasons that we consider unwise to discuss…”


Recall, too, that the official reports on the 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan were similarly frozen from publication; what is known of the official facts has come out thanks to private initiative, which is strictly illegal, given the way the law on these matters is framed.


Contrast this with some other cultures. In 2008, Britain’s equivalent of the CIC directed publication of the minutes of Cabinet meetings in 2003 which discussed the legality of the war in Iraq. Israel has fully published the entire probe report into its war with the Arabs in 1973 and its invasion of Lebanon in 2006; it didn’t matter that the latter inquiry censured the then prime minister (who also obeyed a summons to testify). And there’s the noting from the US Supreme Court in the Vietnam war disclosure (the Pentagon Papers) case: “The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security for our Republic”. And this while the war was still on. Where are we, on these standards? The CIC has done us a valuable service, by demonstrating that only an alert citizenry that is prepared to enforce its right to be informed can have this very basic level of democracy.


Source: http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=Denying+us+the+right+to+know&artid=7FO9tLDjsYk=&SectionID=RRQemgLywPI=&MainSectionID=RRQemgLywPI=&SEO=CIC,+Nehru;+culture;+Central+Information+Commissio&SectionName=XQcp6iFoWTvPHj2dDBzTNA==

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Atul Patankar

As reported by A. G. Noorani at www.frontline.in in its April 11-24 issue


The CIC’s reasons for refusing to make public the Henderson Brooks report on the 1962 India-China conflict can have far-reaching implications.


THE Central Information Commission (CIC), headed by Wajahat Habibullah and comprising on the Bench, M.L. Sharma, has rendered a grave disservice to the nation by ruling that the report of Lieutenant General Henderson Brooks and Brigadier P.S. Bhagat on our military debacle in the India-China war of 1962 cannot be disclosed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005. The reasons are not only wrong palpably, but are far-reaching in their implications. They ignore hallowe d precedent as the book under review shows.


The report cannot compromise either India’s security or its ties with China for the simple reason, as this writer disclosed earlier, that Neville Maxwell has a copy of the report. His book India’s China War, published in 1970, is based on it (vide the writer’s article “Looking Back”, Frontline, April 10, 1992).


Maxwell has since gone a step further. He has openly avowed possession of a copy of the report in an article in the Economic & Political Weekly (April 14, 2001) entitled “Henderson Brooks Report: An Introduction”. He revealed that the report “is long [its main section, excluding recommendations and many annexures, covers nearly 200 foolscap pages]”. He avers that “the report includes no surprises and its publication would be of little significance”. The officially published brief summary was “largely misleading”.


Is the Indian citizen to be denied access to it nearly half a century later? Especially since the entire exercise was undertaken to assuage an anguished people. In form, it was an “internal review” instituted by the Army chief, General J.N. Chaudhari. But it was in pursuance of Jawaharlal Nehru’s assurance to the Rajya Sabha on November 29, 1962: “I hope there will be an inquiry so as to find out what mistakes or errors were committed and who were responsible for them.”


Accordingly, Defence Minister Y.B. Chavan announced the institution of the inquiry on April 1, 1963. He gave a garbled summary to the Lok Sabha on September 2, 1963. He claimed it was “the type of inquiry” that was promised but pleaded that “the public interest” would be harmed by disclosure. The Defence Ministry’s claims that “reports of internal review are not even submitted to government” is puerile. The government has a right to ask for it, and in this case it was submitted to the Army chief on May 12, 1963 who forwarded it to the Defence Minister with his comments on July 2.


The Ministry falsely asserts that “disclosure of the Army’s operational strategy” in 1962 has a direct bearing on the demarcation of the Line of Actual Control. The Chinese and the world know of the strategy and troop deployment. The demarcation has gone nowhere. China wants a political accord. Disclosures of 1962 have no bearing on the LAC’s alignment. Every one knows that Dhola Post and a few other places were north of, and beyond, the McMahon Line. Nehru admitted as much on September 12, 1959. “In some parts” the McMahon Line “was varied by us”.

The CIC misdirected itself by holding that this is “a live issue”, hence, no disclosure. It implies that disclosure will only follow an accord on the boundary question. This defeats the object of the inquiry and also the whole purpose of the RTI.


It is relevant to read the transcript of the testimony recorded at the hearings conducted jointly by the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees into the dismissal of General Douglas MacArthur (The New York Times, May 4-June 8, 1952). Although the proceedings were in camera, a censored report of the entire evidence was made available that very day.


Apart from the General himself, the others who gave evidence were the Secretary of State Dean Acheson, Defence Secretary General George Marshall, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Omar Bradley. The inquiry was not limited to the actual dismissal. It covered a very wide range of issues and comprised a thorough discussion of the rival concepts of strategy and tactics and the differing opinions on American military strength.


“We are stripping the nation’s security framework to the bare skeleton,” Chairman Richard B. Russel remarked. He was not wrong.


Americanreporters were chagrined to find the TASS correspondent regularly coming to buy the transcript for a few cents. (The full text was published in The New York Times). And all this while the Korean war was on. It ended two years later.


Dardanelles Commission



A special commission was set by an Act of the British Parliament to enquire into the Dardanelles campaign. Eminent admirals, generals and a judge were its members. The terms of reference were “for the purpose of inquiring into the origin, inception and conduct of operations or war in the Dardanelles and Gallipoli, including the supply of drafts, reinforcements, ammunition and equipment to the troops and fleet, the provision for the sick and wounded, and the responsibility of those departments of the government whose duty it has been to minister to the wants of the forces employed in that theatre of war”.


On July 18, 1916, Prime Minister Herbert Asquith announced in the House of Commons, at the end of a two-day debate, that he would set up a Royal Commission “to inquire into the Dardanelles operations”. Its report was debated in the House of Commons on March 20, 1917, while the First World War was on. It ended in 1918.


This book could not have made a more timely appearance. It is due to be published on April 25. Judges of the Supreme Court will profit much by it if the case goes to the court in appeal, as one hopes it will. Prof. Robin Prior has consulted the archives to provide a full account that demolishes many myths. The campaign in the Gallipoli peninsula, across the Dardanelles, in 1915-16 attempted to shorten the war by eliminating Ottoman Turkey, then Germany’s unwise ally, creating an alliance in the Balkans, and securing a sea route to Czarist Russia through the Dardanelles. Had it succeeded, the Ottoman and Czarist regimes might have survived.

It ended in disaster, at a loss of 390,000 lives. It was the brainchild of Winston Churchill, head of the Admiralty. His career suffered a setback when he was removed from office.


As Secretary of War, Horatio Kitchener was privy to it. The Cabinet was busy with plans to divide the Ottoman Empire and ignored the campaign. As in Arunachal Pradesh in 1962, the Ministers failed in “the higher direction of the war” (page 70) – a phrase also used in the Henderson Brooks Report.


Students of history will welcome this definitive work. The politics of war are exposed thoroughly. The vain effort to achieve a cheap victory holds lessons for all. One hopes the author will follow up this work with a full-length study of the Dardanelles Commission.


By the way, did the CIC know that Israel set up two commissions of inquiry into military campaigns. One was headed by the president of the Supreme Court, Shimon Agranat, on the Yom Kippur War of 1974. The other, headed by a retired Judge, Eliyahu Winograd, submitted a 629-page report on the campaign against Lebanon in 2006. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had to testify before it. Even Margaret Thatcher set up the Franks Inquiry into the Falklands war.


In 2009, our CIC bars disclosure of a report of 1963 on a military debacle of 1962. Are we such a substandard democracy?


Source: Open secret?

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As reported by Himanshi Dhawan of TNN in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 02 May 2009:

Two war reports, two rulings: CIC seeks clear declassification policy - India - The Times of India


Two war reports, two rulings: CIC seeks clear declassification policy



NEW DELHI: In a space of four weeks, the Central Information Commission has given what appear to be contradictory rulings related to matters of

national security.


While the information watchdog has allowed disclosure of details related to the 1971 Indo-Pak war spy case, the same commission chose to withhold the Henderson-Brooks report on the 1962 Sino-India war. The ambiguity over which information should be made public is compounded because of a lack of declassification policy in the country.


"There should be a clear declassification policy. It is a logical consequence of the Right to Information Act to have a disclosure policy and a right to privacy policy,'' Wajahat Habibullah, chief information commissioner said.


Denying that the two orders were opposed to each other, Habibullah said that in the Henderson-Brooks report, there was a lot of material on the Line of Control (LoC) which was a "live issue''. "The Henderson-Brooks report deals with issues related to the Line of Control that are still under negotiation. It was felt that it would be detrimental to national interest to be make such information public,'' he said.


He added that the allegations of an alleged CIA agent in the Indira Gandhi Cabinet was an issue that did not affect present circumstances.


The chief information commissioner was of the opinion that clear laws on right to privacy and declassification would facilitate dispensation of the RTI Act. "Giving information is the rule and not giving it is an exception. A clear policy on declassification, like the one in the United States, would make our work much easier,'' Habibullah said.


The US and United Kingdom have a disclosure policy under their respective Freedom of Information Act. In the US, documents are automatically declassified after a period of 25 years unless exempted under section 3.3 (B) of the executive order 12958.


Activists have long argued that information related to public events — of national and international importance — must be made public.

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An article by Kuldip Nayar in nation.com.pk on 12 May 2009:

Unjustified fear | Pakistan | News | Newspaper | Daily | English | Online


Unjustified fear


That India was defeated by China in 1962 is known to everybody. What is not known is why there was a rout which was so humiliating. The inquiry was entrusted to the two top army officers, Lt General Henderson Brooks and Lt General Prem Bhagat. Their report is some 46 years old. Yet the government is sitting over it. The general impression is that since the army and the then Prime Minister, Jawharlal Nehru, have been blamed in that order, the report has been suppressed. I am more or less positive that the impression is correct.


I tried to access the report through the Right to Information Act (RTI). But the government got away in the name of "public interest." Nowhere in the world has the army been able to dupe the public on facts for such a long period in the name of secrecy.


It is a pity that the Central Information Commission comprising of two retired civil servants Wajahat Habib Ullah and M L Sharma could not rise above the hangover of their loyalty to the establishment. They rejected my plea to make the report public. My experience is that the army in India is a sacred cow. The public, particularly the media, is so circumspect when it comes to discussing the armed forces that even a word of criticism is avoided, lest it should affect the "morale" of the armed forces. This craven attitude of the media has allowed them to get away even with murder.


The commission's verdict is so palpably wrong that it goes against the grain of intelligence. It considers the issue of India-China border to be "alive" because of the "ongoing negotiations" between the two countries. It does not want to lift the lid from a scandal of cowardice and arrogance. The commission should know that the negotiations began long before hostilities. They were going on when I was information officer of the then Home Minister, Gobind Ballabh Pant, in 1957. The talks are continuing between the two countries even now because they have come to believe that the break down of talks would be more harmful than going over the same exercise again and again.

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As reported in expressbuzz.com on 17 July 2009:

Disclose Sino-India war report: HC to centre=


Disclose Sino-India war report: HC to centre



NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court Thursday directed the government to place before it the report of Lt Gen Henderson Brooks on the reasons behind the 1962 Sino-India war to decide whether it could be made public.

Justice Sanjiv Khanna issued notice to the government and asked it to file its response on a petition filed by noted journalist Kuldip Nayar, seeking the court's direction to the centre to disclose the report.


Advocate Rajiv Nayar, appearing for the petitioner, contended that the report was more that 45 years old and it could not remain classified.


"It is now 43 years old and should have been formally available in the Archives of India, some 30 years after it was submitted to the Government of India. I hope I can use my right under Right to Information to get a copy," the petition said, adding that in the US, the papers relating to the Vietnam war were made public.


The court after hearing his arguments asked the government to file the report in a sealed envelope and posted the matter for further hearing on Oct 22.


Nayar, a former Rajya Sabha MP, approached the court challenging Central Information Commission (CIC) order which said that the report could not be disclosed under RTI Act as it would seriously compromise the country's security and its ties with the neighbouring country.


The defence ministry, while opposing the plea of Nayar, had pleaded that making the report public would amount to disclosure of the army's operational strategy in the north-east and would have a direct bearing on the question of the demarcation of the Line of Actual Control between India and China which is a live issue.

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As reported by IANS in deccanherald.com on 19 August 2010:

China war papers denied to shield Nehru: Kuldip Nayar


China war papers denied to shield Nehru: Kuldip Nayar


The government is trying to hide information on then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru's role in the 1962 Sino-Indian war by refusing access to those war papers, says Kuldip Nayar, veteran journalist and a former Indian envoy to Britain.


Nayar filed a plea under the Right to Information Act three years ago to get access to classified papers relating to the 1962 war that humiliated New Delhi and led to the loss of 38,000 sq km of territory to the Chinese.


Six months ago, Nayar said the Central Information Commission turned down his request, saying the documents can't be revealed in the interest of national security. Now, he has approached the high court to get access to these crucial papers which he feels can throw light on who was responsible for India's crushing defeat in the war. “I was told that military tactics can't be revealed. What's so sensitive about information on tactics nearly five decades after the war?” Nayar told IANS. Does that mean the tactics have not changed, he asked.


“There is a political angle and there is a military angle to the war. I wanted to find out who was really responsible for India's defeat: the military or political leadership,” said Nayar.


“There is so much criticism of Nehru on how the war went. My suspicion is they don't want to reveal these papers as they do not want questions to be raised on Nehru's leadership,” said Nayar.


The government is also sitting pretty on another plea of Nayar requesting access to documents pertaining to talks between Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Swaran Singh, then foreign ministers of Pakistan and India respectively, after the 1965 India-Pakistan war.


The information commission has asked the government to consider the request but nothing has moved so far, Nayar said. Asked why he was keen to get these papers, Nayar said there was a lot of pressure from Britain and the US on India to resolve the Kashmir issue after the 1965 war.


“There were five rounds of discussions between Swaran Singh and Bhutto on this issue. Their discussions on resolving the Kashmir issue are still relevant,” said Nayar. Under Indian law, all documents could be made available to the archives 30 years after the incident.


“It's happening in the US and the UK. There is a great need for transparency about historical events. The government has clearly something to hide,” said an incensed Nayar.

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As reported by Himanshi Dhawan in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 26 August 2010:

'Army brass inability in '62 war revealed' - India - The Times of India


'Army brass inability in '62 war revealed'


NEW DELHI: Chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah on Wednesday said the Henderson-Brooks report -- the operation review of the 1962 Sino-India war -- revealed the incompetence of the Indian military top brass.


Habibullah, who read the report before rejecting journalist Kuldip Nayar's request to disclose the contents under the Right to Information Act, said, "The report reveals the incompetence of the military top brass. But that was not why we rejected the plea for its disclosure. The Commission felt that the the report hinged on the question, which are still items of negotiation between India and China."


While the government has been persistent in keeping the document under wraps through the years, there have been reports published-- notably by Neville Maxwell in 2001 -- that have divulged details of how things went wrong in 1962.


The Commission had denied disclosure of the Henderson Brooks report in 2009 on the ground that it could endanger national security.


"We have examined the report specifically in terms of its bearing on present national security. There is no doubt that the issue of the India-China border particularly along the North-east parts of India is still a live issue with ongoing negotiations between the two countries on this matter," CIC had reasoned last year.


"The disclosure of information of which the Henderson Brooks report carries considerable detail on what precipitated the war of 1962 between India and China will seriously compromise both security and the relationship between India and China, thus having a bearing on both internal and external security," it had added.

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An opinion by A G Noorani in thehindu.com on 02 July 2012:

The Hindu : Opinion / Lead : Publish the 1962 war report now


Publish the 1962 war report now



The suppression of the Brooks-Bhagat report on the war with China is a betrayal of Nehru’s promise to the nation

The Government of India’s statement in Parliament on May 10, that the Report of the Operations Review Committee on the 1962 War with China, by Lt.Gen. T.B. Henderson Brooks and Brigadier P.S. Bhagat, V.C., will not be published follows an Order of March 19, 2009 by a Bench of the Central Information Commission comprising the Chief Information Commissioner, Wajahat Habibullah, and the Information Commissioner, M.L. Sharma on Kuldip Nayar’s application for a copy of the Report.


The Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) had replied to him on June 13, 2008 quoting S. 8(1) (a) of the RTI which reads thus: “‘Notwithstanding anything contained in this act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence.’ Since the report contained information, which was considered sensitive therefore, same, was regretted.” The vague word “sensitive” does not figure in S. 8.


Bearing on security


The CIC’s Order quoted S. 8(2) but did not act on it: “Notwithstanding anything in the Official Secrets Act, 1923, or any of the exemptions permissible in accordance with sub-section (1), a public authority may allow access to information, if public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests.” The CIC examined the Original Report, including the pages of conclusions at pp. 192-222. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had told the CIC that the Report “was a part of internal review conducted on the orders of the then Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Choudhary. Reports of internal review are not even submitted to Govt. let alone placed in the public domain. Disclosure of this information will amount to disclosure of the army’s operational strategy in the North-East and the discussion on deployments had a direct bearing on the question of the Line of Actual Control between India and China, a live issue examination between the two countries at present.” The Director General Military Operations, therefore, submitted that the report falls clearly within the exemption of disclosures laid down in Sec. 8(1)(a) of the RTI act read with sec. 8(3).”


The CIC’s Order said: “We have examined the report specifically in terms of its bearing on present national security. There is no doubt that the issue of the India-China Border particularly along the North East parts of India is still a live issue with ongoing negotiations between the two countries on this matter. The disclosure of information of which the Henderson Brooks report carries considerable detail on what precipitated the war of 1962 between India and China will seriously compromise both security and the relationship between India and China, thus having a bearing both on internal and external security. We have examined the report from the point of view of severability u/s 10(1). For reasons that we consider unwise to discuss in this Decision Notice, this Division Bench agrees that no part of the report might at this stage be disclosed.”


Both the MoD and the CIC confused diplomatic embarrassment in “ongoing negotiations” with China with “national security” and concluded that material on “what precipitated the war … will seriously compromise both security and the relationship between India and China.” The CIC concludes from this: “thus having a bearing both on internal and external security.” Books galore have been published in India and abroad on who and what triggered the war without affecting either our “security” or the relationship with China.

The report


Are we sure China does not have a copy of the Report? Most certainly Neville Maxwell has. His book, “India’s China War” (1970), drew on “Material from unpublished files and reports of the Government of India and the Indian Army.” It was a veiled reference to the Henderson Brooks Report. This writer acquired personal knowledge of the fact.


China Quarterly (London) published in its July-September 1970 issue a review-article by this writer on India’s Forward Policy based on the memoirs of Brig. John P. Dalvi, “Himalayan Blunder,” Lt. Gen. B.M. Kaul’s “The Untold Story,”and D.R. Mankekar’s “The Guilty Men of 1962.” Maxwell wrote a lengthy reply to it which the editor, David C. Wilson, sent across for this writer’s rejoinder. In three of the footnotes, the Henderson Brooks report was cited with full references. The writer’s reply explicitly asserted that Maxwell had made his comments party “on the basis of the Henderson Brooks report from which his information is drawn and which is not available to me.” Both the reply and the rejoinder were published together in China Quarterly of January-March 1971. But, instead of the explicit and precise references to the report in the footnotes in the proof, Maxwell’s reply, as published, referred to “an unpublished document.”


On April 14, 2001, the Economic and Political Weekly published Maxwell’s article entitled “Henderson Brooks Report: An Introduction.” What he wrote knocks the CIC’s order for a six and exposes the falsity of the government’s excuses. “The Henderson Brooks Report is long (its main section, excluding recommendations and many annexures, covers nearly 200 foolscap pages).” He quotes directly from the Report which said: “It would have been convenient and logical to trace the events (beginning with) Army HQ, and then move down to Commands for more details … ending with field formations for the battle itself.”


Maxwell’s comments on the Report are noteworthy. “The report includes no surprises, and its publication would be of little significance but for the fact that so many in India still cling to the soothing fantasy of a 1962 Chinese aggression… Even in the dry, numbered paragraphs of their report, HB/B’s account of the moves that preceded the final assault is dramatic and riveting.” Its main author was one of the most distinguished soldiers we have known, Brigadier Prem Bhagat, holder of a WWII Victoria Cross, who Maxwell describes as “a no-nonsense, fighting soldier, widely respected in the Army,” going on to say that “the taut, unforgiving analysis in the report bespeaks the asperity of his reproach” — that explains its suppression. It is a damning document. Henderson Brooks settled down in Australia after retirement. On March 19, 2009, the CIC made its Order apparently unaware of this revealing article published on April 14, 2001. If Maxwell were to put the report online, no red faces will be noticed in South Block. They will be covered with egg.


The suppression is a betrayal of a solemn promise to the nation. On November 9, 1962, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru solemnly promised the Rajya Sabha: “People have been shocked, all of us have been shocked, by the events that occurred from October 20 onwards, especially of the first few days, and the reverses we suffered. So I hope there will be an inquiry so as to find out what mistakes or errors were committed and who were responsible for them.”


The inquiry, though conducted internally, was intended to allay public disquiet and to fix responsibility. On September 2, 1963, Raksha Mantri Y.B. Chavan informed Parliament about the Report claiming “this inquiry is the type of inquiry which the Prime Minister had in mind when he promised such an inquiry to the House in November 1962.” But “publication of this report which contains information about the strength and deployment of our forces and their locations would be of invaluable use to our enemies. It would not only endanger our security but affect the morale of those entrusted with safeguarding the security of our borders.” In 1963 this was understandable. In 2009 it was not. He made a tantalising reference to “the higher direction of operation. Even the largest and the best equipped of armies need to be given proper policy guidance” — the leadership’s role.


What CIC Wajahat Habibullah said in a press interview on August 24, 2010, provides the clues: “The Report reveals the incompetence of the military top brass. But that was not why we rejected the plea for its disclosure. [We] felt that the Report hinged on the questions which are still items of negotiation between India and China.”


This is no ground at all. The issue is not the alignment of the McMahon Line but China’s claim to Arunachal Pradesh. But the alignment is relevant to “what precipitated the war of 1962,” as his order puts it. That is known to all. On September 12, 1959, Nehru candidly told Parliament that in “some parts” the McMahon Line “was not considered a good line and it was varied afterwards by us.” In June 1962, the Dhola Post was set up within that line but beyond the map line — an area of 60 sq.miles. On September 8, Chinese troops took up positions dominating it. Responding to public anger, Nehru ordered their eviction. China replied with a massive attack on October 20. Maj.Gen. Niranjan Prasad who commanded the 4 Division at Tezpur had doubts about the Line in that area.


Inquiries in other countries

The CIC’s Order, based on unreal fears inspired by patriotic fervour, flies in the face of a record of such inquiries in democracies.


In Britain: 1. It defeated Russia in the Crimean War (1853-6) but the heavy cost prompted an inquiry 2. A Royal Commission inquired “into the Dardanalles operations.” Its Report was debated in the House of Commons on March 20, 1917, while WWI was on. 3. The Franks Committee inquired into the Falklands War of April 1982. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and three predecessors gave oral evidence. The Report was published in January 1983. 4. The Butler Report on the Iraq invasion was followed by Lord Chilcot’s inquiry which is still at work.


In the United States: 1. The Senate Armed Forces and Foreign Relations Committees jointly inquired into Truman’s foreign and defence policies in May-June 1952 after he sacked Gen. Douglas MacArthur while the war was on. Top officials were grilled. 2. Defence Secretary Robert McNamara set up on June 17, 1967, the Vietnam Study Task Force. Its Report ran into 47 volumes known as the Pentagon Papers. Copied illegally, they were published by The New York Times on June 13, 1971, during the war. The Supreme Court upheld the paper’s right to publish them. Justice Hugo Black’s remarks are relevant to our case. “The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no security.” 3. Congressional Reports on the 9/11 attack are public documents.In Israel: 1. It set up a Commission of inquiry, headed by Chief Justice Yitzhak Kahan into the killings in Palestinian Camps in Sabra and Shatila in Beirut in September 1982. 2. A Commission of inquiry by the President of the Supreme Court, Shimon Agranat, inquired into the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Its Report was published after 20 years, but published all the same. 3. Judge Eliyahu Winograd’s Commission censured Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and top army brass in its Report on April 30, 2007, for launching the Second Lebanese War in 2006. Heads had rolled after all these probes — Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan, Ariel Sharon, Menachem Begin. 4. The State Comptroller, Micha Lindenstrauss, a watchdog, censured Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in June this year for mishandling the 2010 raid on a flotilla in May 2010.


Does the Indian citizen deserve less?

(A.G. Noorani is a lawyer, author and commentator. His latest book, Article 370: A Constitutional History of Jammu and Kashmir, was published by Oxford University Press in 2011.)

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Arvind Radhakrishnan in Deccanherald.com on July 11, 2012

Why is Sino-Indian war inquiry report being hushed up?


Recently the Government of India declared that the ‘Report on the Operations Review Committee on the 1962 War with China’ will not be published. The report had been prepared by Lt Gen Henderson Brooks and Brigadier P S Bhagat in the immediate aftermath of the conflict. It has been 50 years since the Sino-Indian war. A war which was an unmitigated disaster and one that continues to be a perennial nightmare for India. Considering the unpalatable fact that nearly 2,000 Indian officers and soldiers laid down their lives, citizens of this country have every right to know the truth about the conflict. This would be deemed the norm in any sane democracy.


The government has taken recourse to an order by the Central Information Commission on veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar’s application seeking a copy of the report. The CIC has made references to S.8 (1) (a) of the RTI which states –“Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen Information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the state, relation with foreign state or lead to incitement of an offence.” Publication of the report was denied on the grounds that it would be detrimental to ‘national interest.’


This response flies in the face of similar reports of inquiries conducted in democratic countries. The Franks Committee was set up in England to inquire into the Falklands War in 1982. It recorded oral testimonies by the then serving prime minister Magaret Thatcher and also her predecessors. The report was published in 1983.


The United States conducted many inquiry committees for the Korean and Vietnam wars, all of whose reports were published and suggestions acted upon. The congressional reports investigating the 9/11 attacks are now available in the public domain.


Israel set up the Kahan Commission to investigate human rights violations during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, especially the massacre of women and children in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. The Kahan commission held the then defence minister Ariel Sharon responsible for the offences committed during the war. Ariel Sharon had to resign as defence minister. If this has been the conduct of other democratic polities, why is India being stubbornly different?


Few clues

Why is this report being hushed up? We do lack certitude on this issue, however, there are a few clues that can possibly shed some light. Between 1962 and 1965, R D Pradhan was the private secretary of Y B Chavan who took over as defence minister from the acerbic V K Krishna Menon who fell from grace after the fiasco. His memoirs ‘Debacle to Revival’ based on the years when Y B Chavan was defence minister may provide some clues.


Pradhan says “For Chavan the main challenge in the first years (of his office as defence minister) was to establish relationship of trust between himself and the prime minister. He succeeded in doing so by his deft-handling of the Henderson Brooks Report.” It appears that the main intention was to shield prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru from the rampant criticism that had already claimed prominent victims like Krishna Menon.


Neville Maxwell, the author of India’s China war who had the ‘privilege’ to access a copy of the Henderson report from which he abundantly quoted in his book, suggested that the report was a very stinging one. One of the key questions alluding to the conflict remains: ‘Who started the war?’.


This has been a very disturbing question. According to Chinese historians who wrote the history of the 1962 conflict, on October 6,1962 the Chinese defence minister Lin Biao reported that the Indians continue to ‘advance’ and often open fire on Chinese outposts like the Thagla ridge. Chairman Mao believed that Nehru was the aggressor and that the Indian aggression had to be countered in a decisive manner.


The contentious issue of ‘forward posts’ (like the ‘ Dhola’ post set up by India) remain an unsolved mystery. If the contents of the report are made public, the actual role played by senior officers like Lt Gen B M Kaul who was commander of the 4 Corps (a formation purportedly created to ‘throw the Chinese out’), Maj Gen Niranjan Prasad who headed the all important 4 Infantry Division and the then Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Maj Gen D K Palit, will also be revealed.


Defence minister A K Anthony has cited a plethora of issues, ranging from the contested McMahon line (border between India and China) to the Indian army’s operational capability in the North-East, justifying the suppression of the report. These are painfully shoddy excuses, not befitting an ‘open’ minister like Antony. It is difficult to fathom that the Indian army has not changed its operational strategy even after 50 years. Every Indian has the right to know the truth about the 1962 war. Publication of this report will be a decisive first step. Only then will the mist surrounding this event dissolve into clarity.


(The writer is a faculty member of the school of law, Christ University)

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Claude Arpi in Rediff.com on August 08, 2012

50 years later, what has the GoI got to hide? - Rediff.com India News


After the defeat in the 1962 war with China, the Indian government requested Lieutenant General Henderson-Brooks and Brigadier Prem Bhagat to prepare a report.


Fifty years later, it remains one of India's most secret documents.


What on earth has stopped the government from revealing the report to the Indian public, asks Claude Arpi.

Year 2012 is a special year.


While China will replace seven out nine of its 'core' leaders by the end of the year; India will 'remember' the 50th anniversary of the Peoples' Liberation Army entering NEFA (present day Arunachal Pradesh) and Ladakh, inflicting the worse post-Independence trauma to India.


The Sino-Indian conflict has remained a scar on the nation's psyche, partly because there remains a feeling that it can happen again, but also because we do not know what exactly happened on the slopes of the Thagla ridge in October 1962. Of course, a lot has been written on the subject and probably more will be written before October.


A few months after the debacle, the Indian government requested Lieutenant General Henderson-Brooks and Brigadier Prem Bhagat to prepare a report of the events which led to the fiasco. It is unfortunately that 50 years later, it is still the most secret Indian document.


Though in 1963, extracts were read out in Parliament by then defence minister Y B Chavan who took over from the disgraced V K Krishna Menon after the debacle of October 1962, the gist of the Henderson-Brooks report seems to be missing.


Between 1962 and 1965, R D Pradhan was Chavan's private secretary; in his memoirs, he provides some insights on the issue: 'During the conduct of the enquiry, Chavan was apprehensive that the committee may cast aspersions on the role of the prime minister or the defence minister.' Pradhan adds: 'His (Chavan) main worry was to find ways to defend the government and at the same time to ensure that the morale of the armed forces was not further adversely affected.'


Chavan's secretary concluded that Chavan 'earned the gratitude of the prime minister.'


Was it by classifying the Henderson-Brooks report forever?


In 2008, answering a question on the report, Defence Minister A K Antony told Parliament that the Henderson-Brooks report could not be made public because an internal study by the army had established that its contents 'are not only extremely sensitive, but are of current operational value.'


Nobody will believe that a 49-year-old report is still of 'operational value'.


It could only be a manual of what should NOT be done in case of a conflict with China or any other country. All the more reason to study it!


In 2005, veteran journalist and former MP Kuldip Nayar requested, under the Right to Information, the ministry of defence 'to make me available a copy of the report'.


The defence ministry's stand was articulated during a hearing of the commission in March 2009: 'Disclosure of this information will amount to disclosure of the army's operational strategy in the North-East and the discussion on deployments has a direct bearing on the question of the demarcation of the Line of Actual Control between India and China, a live issue under examination between the two countries at present.'


On March 19, 2010, in a 'decision notice', the Central Information Commission said: 'The disclosure of information of which the Henderson Brooks report carries considerable detail on what precipitated the war of 1962 between India and China will seriously compromise both security and the relationship between India & China.' As a result: 'No part of the report might at this stage be disclosed.'


One is left playing a guess game. A sentence, however gives us an indication: 'The issue of the India-China Border is still a live issue with ongoing negotiations between the two countries on this matter.'


What has the McMahon Line to do in this matter?


The military operations in 1962

Let us return fifty years ago. In early October 1962, the Chinese military intelligence had gathered that Indian forces were planning to 'attack China' on the Thagla ridge on October 10. A few days earlier, Mao Zedong had told his party's colleagues: 'It seems like armed coexistence won't work. It's just as we expected. Nehru really wants to use force. This isn't strange. He has always wanted to seize Aksai Chin and Thagla ridge. He thinks he can get everything he desires.'


Mao seems to believe that India would 'attack'.


Though there was no question of the Indian army [ Images ] 'attacking China' with no food, no warm clothes, no armament or ammunition supply, the Chinese seemed to have perceived the situation differently.


Were they just looking for a pretext? What was the pretext?


The answer is to be found in the accounts of senior army officers, the unwilling actors in the 'Himalayan blunder'. Major General Niranjan Prasad, the GOC of 4 Infantry Division in his book The Fall of Towang (Tawang) describes the setting of the operations thus: 'The McMahon Line from just north of Khinzemane, as drawn by Sir Henry McMahon in 1914 with a thick blue (in fact, red) pencil on an unsurveyed map, was not an accurate projection of the Himalayan watershed line. ...In this process the position of Thagla ridge was, to say the least, left ambiguous. The story goes that the officer surveying the area had completed an admirable task of delineating the watershed up to this point when a pretty Mompa girl claimed his attention and the work was left uncompleted.'


Pretty girl or not, the survey had been completed in 1913 by Captains Bailey and Morshead, but it is true that it was rather sketchy (1 inch to 8 miles).


If one follows the watershed principle as well as the ownership of customary pastures' rights, the Thagla ridge was the border, but the fact remains that the old map which was the reference for India's position on the 'genuine' location of the McMahon Line, showed the Thagla ridge and the Namkha Chu, north of the Red Line. Further surveys were unfortunately not conducted after India's Independence.


The Forward Policy

It is necessary to return two years earlier to understand the situation on the eve of the tragedy. The Government of India had mooted a new policy to establish posts right on the border; it was the famous 'Forward Policy'. The sighting of these posts and their exact location was, however, decided mainly by the Intelligence Bureau and not the Army.


It was the brainchild of Krishna Menon, the defence minister, with the full support of the prime minister, who however had stated that posts should not be established in 'disputed areas'.


The local commanders (Corps, Division and Brigade) were not happy and they made it known, but nothing could stop the folly of the 'authorities' in Delhi [ Images ]. Brigadier John Dalvi recalled: 'Many generals, including General Umrao Singh (the 4 Corps Commander), opposed the indiscriminate opening up of more posts. ...The setting up of posts in disputed territory is a different matter. It is an act of rashness, whoever decreed it and with whatever authority, unless we had the means to settle the resultant dispute on the battlefield.'


As the local GOC of the 4 Infantry Division, Major General Niranjan Prasad noted, the local commanders had no choice, though they could certainly have resigned, but in an almost war situation, it was not an easy decision to take.


In his Himalayan Blunder, Dalvi questions how the Dhola Post on the Namkha Chu, near the Thagla ridge came into existence: 'We seemed to have ventured most casually into a potentially explosive commitment. Instead of working in water-tight compartments, we should have alerted the whole Army and prepared for a clash.'


The Intelligence Bureau and its then director, B N Mullick, had probably no clue about the exact position of the border and the Chinese preparations.


Visit of the Director of Military Operations

On August 14, 1962, Brigadier D K Palit, then the director of military operations (DMO), visited the Corps Headquarters in Tezpur.


In his memoirs, General Prasad recorded: 'I told the DMO that the establishment of Dhola Post could lead to very serious consequences if in fact it lay north of our claim line.'


In his insider's assessment of the conflict, War in the High Himalayas, Brigadier Palit recalls the encounter:


'On my return to Delhi I referred the Thagla dilemma to the Director of Military Survey. The latter commented that as the existing maps of the area were 'sketchy and inaccurate, having been compiled from unreliable sources', the map co-ordinates of the new post quoted by the patrol leader were of doubtful accuracy. He confirmed that the recognised border was the watershed, but qualified this statement by adding 'the exact alignment of (this) will depend on accurate survey'. He added that 'it would take two to three years to complete.'


Palit decided to seek the opinion of the ministry of external affairs and more particularly, the historical section. He wanted to clarify the exact position of the famous Line. Palit met Dr S Gopal, then the director of the historical section (the historian and President Radhakrishnan's son).


Dr Gopal explained to him that since the boundary talks with the Chinese in 1960, the Government of India had been aware that the actual terrain in the area of the tri-junction was different from that depicted on the quarter-inch (in fact, 1:8) scale Simla map.


Dr Gopal noted: 'The Chinese had been told (during the talks of 1960) that the alignment (of the McMahon Line) followed Thagla ridge, which is also the ridge shown by Army Headquarters in the sketch.'


But Palit adds: 'What Gopal had not told me -- and I found out only later -- was that the Chinese had not accepted our arguments and had counter-claimed Thagla ridge, as Chinese territory.'


Palit then sent Dr Gopal's remarks to HQ of the Eastern Command in Lucknow [ Images ] for onward transmission to 4 Infantry Division: "But by then it was mid-September and events in that remote region on the border of Bhutan and Tibet [ Images ] had already reached a critical stage.'


It was already too late to go back, at least for the egos of the main actors in Delhi.


This did not answer Brigadier John Dalvi's query: 'Who forced me to open Dhola?' The above observations by the 'local' actors of the drama demonstrate that nobody knew with exactitude where the border was, though there were solid presumptions (not accepted by China) that the Thagla ridge was the 'actual border'. It is probably what the Henderson-Brooks report discovered and it is why it will continue to remain classified.


The 'massive attack' supposedly planned by India cannot be taken seriously in view of the total lack of preparedness of the troops in terms of armament, ammunition, clothing and food supply. More than half the casualties are said to have succumbed to the cold and the shortage of food. Some senior Officers in the Army Headquarters in Delhi may have dreamt to 'throw out the Chinese' or take 'the Thagla ridge', but it was only a pipe dream.


Mao needed a pretext 'to teach India a lesson', whether the pretext was valid or not, was irrelevant. Some Indian Army senior officers and politicians offered it to him.


However the fact that the Chinese attack occurred simultaneously in all sectors (NEFA and Ladakh) is certainly proof that the operations had been prepared well in advance by the Communist regime in Beijing [ Images ], which did not really need a pretext.

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1962: India's misadventure with China


Henderson Brooks report on 1962 debacle, a 'top secret' in India but posted on internet, blames generals more than politicians


More than half a century has elapsed since an army commission, headed by Lieutenant General T B Henderson Brooks, enquired into India's crushing military defeat at the hands of China in 1962. So controversial have successive governments deemed the report that it remains "Top Secret" even today. Only two copies of the report were believed to exist, one with army headquarters and the other with the defence secretary.


Now a third copy of the Henderson Brooks Report (HBR) has emerged, posted on the internet by Neville Maxwell, a former India correspondent for the British newspaper The Times. Maxwell's controversial book, India's China War, is acclaimed by many as a well-researched indictment of India's politico-military planning; and dismissed by others as a communist sympathiser's justification for China's aggression. Maxwell has often suggested that he had a copy of the HBR.


Lt-Gen Henderson Brooks migrated to Australia after his retirement in the early 1960s. Maxwell joined him there, also choosing - perhaps coincidentally - to settle in Australia. Maxwell has insisted on keeping his source anonymous.


In his blogpost, Maxwell says he offered the HBR to five unnamed editors of Indian newspapers, but none was willing to publish it. Now he has himself published the 190-page document, with pages 112-157 inexplicably missing.


Read more here: http://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/1962-india-s-misadventure-with-china-114031801224_1.html



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In U-turn, Modi govt rules out release of Henderson Brooks report


NEW DELHI: In a marked U-turn from the earlier stand taken by BJP, the Modi government has firmly ruled out the release of the classified Henderson Brooks report into India's humiliating military debacle against China in 1962.


"This (Henderson Brooks report) is a top-secret document and has not been declassified so far. Release of this report, fully or partially, or disclosure of any information related to this report, would not be in national interest," said defence and finance minister Arun Jaitley, in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.


The Henderson Brooks report squarely blames the then Jawarharlal Nehru government's ill-conceived and ill-timed "Forward Policy", without proper intelligence or adequate military preparation, for India's abject defeat in 1962.


When 87-year-old Australian journalist and author Neville Maxwell had suddenly released a major chunk of the report last March, in the run-up to the general elections, the BJP had then promptly seized the opportunity to attack the Congress for compromising the country's military preparedness in the past as well as the present.


Read More: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/In-U-turn-Modi-govt-rules-out-release-of-Henderson-Brooks-report/articleshow/38024666.cms

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