The Henderson Brooks report, which still remains officially classified, has found serious faults with the "Forward Policy" and the army for carrying it out without the necessary wherewithal, according to defence journal Indian Defence Review, which has put on its website some portions of the report first released by Journalist Neville Maxwell.
 
The Henderson Brooks report is an analysis (operations review) of the 1962 war done by officers of the Indian army-- Lt Gen Henderson Brooks and Brig P S Bhagat, who belonged to Indian Military Academy at the time.
       
The report, which was critical of the political and military structure of the time, was classified as a top secret document and the government has rejected strong demands for its declassification even as late as last year.
        
Maxwell, who had reported on the war extensively, had released some contents of the Henderson Brooks report on his website. The Defence Ministry refrained from commenting on the published reports. "Given the extremely sensitive nature of the report, which is of current operational value, it is reiterated that the government classified it as a top secret document and, as such, it would not be appropriate to comment on the contents uploaded   Neville Maxwell on the web," a Defence Ministry release said.
      
The Henderson report has criticized the then government, military and intelligence agencies for basing their assumptions on the belief that the Chinese would not escalate hostilities whereas militarily they should have thought "exactly opposite".

The Forward Policy, which had sought the raising of military outposts in areas claimed by Chinese and launching of aggressive patrols, increased the chances of conflict, the report has said, suggesting that India was not militarily in a position to implement this.
 

BJP pulls up Congress
    
The BJP and Congress clashed over the contents of the report.  The main opposition attacked the Congress saying it had compromised with security then and was doing the same now. The Congress retaliated accusing the BJP of playing "cheap politics" ahead of the Lok Saba polls on the issue.
        
"It (the report) holds Nehru responsible (for India's defeat) and rightly so. The nation still feels the pain of that humiliation. BJP would like the entire report to be made public so that more than 50 years later, the nation finds out who did what wrong," said BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad.
    
While BJP claimed that there was a similarity between the 1962 debacle and the manner in which the UPA government had handled defence matters, particularly in terms of preparedness, Congress said that the rival party was playing cheap politics ahead of Lok Sabha polls.
    
Prasad said that the time had come for a debate as to who had secured the country more —— Nehru or the first Union Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
    
He said that through their acts, Nehru and the then Defence Minister Krishna Menon had left the Indian armed forces to fend for themselves in a state of "complete unpreparedness".
    
Supporting Prasad's demand for the report to be made public, party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said that it would have a bearing on the upcoming polls. "The fact remains that it will certainly tell a lot many things which are important for our institutional memory and (provide) lessons to be learnt," she said.
    
BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar claimed that the report reveals that it is the same old story when it comes to Congress' approach towards national security and defence preparedness. "They (Congress government) did not take cognisance of their (Army's) needs and therefore there was a gap not only in communication but in requirement and preparedness as well...(due to which) India had to suffer a humiliating defeat," he said.
    
UPA ally NCP, however, sought to defend Nehru, saying that the former PM had himself admitted to his mistakes.
    
"The mistake was that he had reposed faith in the Chinese. If we had held talks at the border, then it would have been better, but it did not happen," said NCP's DP Tripathi.
    
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi reacted to the controversy by referring to the Kargil War during NDA rule in 1999.
    
"Much more" politics may be done today about Kargil war, which happened in contemporary India during NDA rule, but "I am not going to do it... (I) could ask you how intruders were allowed to enter India (in 1999) with all these new warships and new equipment."
    
On such matters the nation stands together, Singhvi said, adding that, unlike BJP, Congress does not "do cheap politics on the eve of elections".
    
"To try and play such cheap politics on the eve of elections shows the mindset of BJP," he added.
    
He said, "Everybody knows what happened in 1962 was a product of a complex multitude of factors," Singhvi said.
To suggest that it be made into a "unilinear or unilateral factor" was to try to "miniaturise" things which were complex,” he added.

To a query, Singhvi said, "Certainly, there was lack of preparedness at some level. If you are a serious student of history, you could go into it. But to suggest that Nehru is to blame or Congress is to blame is cheap politics.
    
"We have learnt a lot of lessons. We have come a long way and nobody dares to look us in the eye as some did in the 1960s. In 2014, we are a proud country despite the divisive tactics of BJP," he said.
    
Another Congress leader Rashid Ali claimed that the report, the contents of which have come to light after 50 years, would have little impact.

JPN/Agencies

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