An Australian journalist, Neville Maxwell, created turbulence by targeting Nehru’s China policy and its impact on the India-China war in 1962. But most of the shocking revelations reported by the Henderson Brooks-Bhagat Report are already in the book Foundations of Misery in the chapter “Himalayan Blunder” published months back by Rajnikant Puranik. We are giving stunning facts about the war given by the author in his book as a series.
In response to Nehru’s letter objecting the Chinese map showing parts of India within its territory, Zhou Enlai, Marshal Chen Yi, Foreign minister wrote advising Chinese position on the border issues. He then visited Delhi with high hopes after having settled the borders with Burma, but left disappointed. Their delegation next went to Nepal and settled the borders with them too amicably. Reportedly, Zhou found Nehru’s adamant stand on Aksai Chin inexplicable and unexpected for several reasons: in Chinese opinion, India had no valid and legal ground to lay claim on it; it was of no strategic importance for India; it was barren and nothing grew there; and it did have importance for China on account of the connecting road.
This is from Beyond the Lines by Kuldip Nayar: “…I was only the home ministry’s information officer and had no official locus standi, but it was obvious that the Polish ambassador was on a mission. He invited me for a chat at his chancery and expected me to convey what he had said to [Gobind Ballabh] Pant [Nehru’s Home Minister]. At the beginning of the conversation he said that the proposal he would make had the support of all Communist countries, and specifically mentioning the Soviet Union. His proposal was that India should accept a package political deal, getting recognition for the McMahon Line in exchange for handing over control of some areas in Ladakh [Aksai Chin] to China.
He said that the areas demanded had never been charted, and nobody could say to whom they belonged. What was being claimed to be India’s was what had been forcibly occupied by the UK. No power could honour ‘the imperialist line’, nor should India insist upon it. Whatever the odds, China would never part with the control of the road it had built. That was lifeline between Sinkiang and other parts of China, he argued. I conveyed the proposal to Pant who gave me no reaction, his or that of the government.”
December 1961. Trade agreement under the Panchsheel was to expire on 2 June 1962, and China sent a note suggesting discussions for a new, renewed treaty. India insisted for vacation of Aksai Chin by China as a pre-condition. This would have resulted in the closure of their essential all-weather supply line: Xinjiang-Tibet road passing through Aksai Chin. This increased China’s suspicions on India’s intentions in Aksai Chin and Tibet.
Ill-conceived Forward Policy
Writes Kuldip Nayar in Beyond the Lines: “…Nehru ordered that police check-posts be established to register India’s presence in the Ladakh area. As many as 64 posts were built, but they were not tenable. Home Secretary Jha told me that it was the ‘bright idea’ of B.N. Malik, the director of intelligence, to set up police posts ‘wherever we could’, even behind the Chinese lines, in order to ‘sustain our claim’ on the territory. This was Nehru’s ‘Forward policy’, but then Jha said, ‘Malik does not realise that these isolated posts with no support from the rear would fall like ninepins if there was a push from the Chinese side. We have unnecessarily exposed the policemen to death.’ He went on to say: ‘Frankly, this is the job of the army, but as it has refused to man the posts until full logistical support is provided, New Delhi has pushed the police.”
India went ahead with its plan of physical presence on the frontiers. It began building forward check-posts under its hare-brained Forward Policy—which was actually a “bluff” masquerading as a military strategy. Their locations were as per the border unilaterally determined by India, and not as per mutual discussions with China. There was, therefore, a possibility of China's objection, and even Chinese action to demolish the posts.
The fact was that the boundaries were not settled, so what was say within Indian boundary for India, may have been within Chinese boundary for China. If you had not settled the boundaries, controversies were bound to arise. But, rather than negotiating a boundary with China and reaching a peaceful settlement, Nehru-Menon & Co in their wisdom—their Forward Policy—convinced themselves that it is they who would determine the boundary, and in token thereof, establish their posts, like markers. That China could object, and then attack and demolish those posts, and even move forward into India did not seem to them a possibility. Why? Because, reasoned Nehru: any such “reckless” action by China would lead to world war, and China would not precipitate such a thing!
-Rajnikant Puranik(The writer is author of Foundations of Misery, Part 1, 1947-64)