Saturday, November 16, 2019

The truth about Ladakh’s Shaksgam: Correcting historical wrongs in J&K

The Shaksgam Valley 'donated' to China in 1963
My article The truth about Ladakh’s Shaksgam: Correcting historical wrongs in J&K appeared in The Asian Age/Deccan Chronicle

A secret note prepared by the MEA’s historical division mentioned that ‘any such agreement will be illegal’

Soon after India reorganized the former state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) into the new Union Territories (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, China went ballistic.
Geng Shuang, a spokesman of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the media: "China deplores and firmly opposes this. This is unlawful and void and this is not effective in any way and will not change the fact that the area is under Chinese actual control." He urged India to "earnestly respect Chinese territorial sovereignty and uphold peace and tranquillity in the border areas.”
China’s territorial ‘integrity’ refers not only to Beijing’s claims over the Aksai Chin and some other places up to (and in some cases beyond) the Line of Actual Control (LAC), but to the areas illegally ceded by Pakistan to China in 1963.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs answered sharply: "We do not expect other countries, including China, to comment on matters that are internal to India, just as India refrains from commenting on the internal issues of other countries," declared the Ministry’s spokesman. Referring to the Shaksgam Valley, he pointed out that China had 'illegally' acquired Indian territories.
One understands why the new maps released by the Government irritate China, as this virtually opens up another sector to be negotiated along the Indo-Chinese disputed boundary.
In the new maps, the Leh district of Ladakh includes the districts of Gilgit, Gilgit Wazarat, Chilhas and Tribal Territory of 1947, in addition to the known areas of Leh and of course the Aksai Chin, occupied by China since the mid-1950s.
Why is the mention of Shaksgam an issue for Beijing?
An agreement was signed on March 2, 1963 between Pakistan and China about portions of Kashmir’s boundary with Xinjiang.
A secret Note prepared by the MEA’s Historical Division mentioned that “any such agreement will be ab initio illegal and invalid and will not bind India in any respect.” The Note observed that the preamble states that the parties have agreed to formally delimit and demarcate the boundary between Xinjiang and the contiguous areas of Pakistan; the latter based her right on the fact that these areas were under her ‘actual control’.
However as the Indian note explained: “Under international law, the right of entering into treaties and agreements is an attribute of sovereignty. Furthermore, a sovereign cannot presume to exercise sovereign functions in respect of territory other than its own. Having regard to the UN resolutions of 17 January 1948 and 13 August 1948 and 5 January 1949 (UNCIP Resolutions) it is clear that Pakistan cannot (and does not) claim to exercise sovereignty in respect of J&K.”
The 1963 MEA note clarified that according to the term of the UN Resolutions, “Pakistan cannot purport to exercise even ‘actual control’ over the defence of these areas.”
It quoted a statement of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP): “The Commission did not ignore India’s claim to the right to safeguard the security of the State, nor did it put into question the legality of the Jammu and Kashmir Government” (UN Doc S/1430). In other words, the UN acknowledged the Instrument of Accession signed by Maharaja Hari Singh.
The legal conclusion was that “Pakistan’s claim to the ‘actual control’ ….can only mean that she has had recourse to a line of action which is illegal and inconsistent with the UN Resolutions,[it was] reaffirmed by her as late as 2 May 1962.” Occupying a land by force or war does not give the titles of that land to the occupiers.
The Historical Division commented further on Pakistan’s mala fides: “the conclusion of this ‘Agreement’ amounts to compromising the sovereignty of the state of J&K, which Pakistan has no business to do; even though Article 6 of the agreement includes provision for its renegotiation after the final settlement of the Kashmir question.”
It is strange that the Governments of China and Pakistan announced the agreement on the eve of important Indo-Pakistan talks on Kashmir.
On March 5, 1963, speaking about China during a Calling Attention Motion in the Lok Sabha, the Indian Prime Minister stated: “If one goes by these maps, Pakistan has obviously surrendered over 13,000 square miles of territory.”
Nehru rightly remarked: “The agreement claims to be provisional, and yet so much haste has been shown in concluding it. It is significant that it is not subject to ratification. Thus, the National Assembly, the press and the public of Pakistan have been given and will be given no opportunity to examine the terms of this agreement.”
About China, he added that: “in spite of its professions that it has never involved itself in the dispute over Kashmir or its absurd claim that the boundary negotiations have promoted friendship between the Chinese and Pakistani people and are in the interests of Asia and world peace, is directly interfering in Indo-Pakistan relations. By doing this, China, is seeking to exploit differences between India and Pakistan …to further its own expansionist policy.”
Unfortunately, India did not have the wisdom to break the negotiations with Pakistan at that time, though the note pointed out that Delhi objected to Article 1 which said that the boundary in this region “has never been formally limited”; already on May 10, 1962, Delhi had clarified that “the international boundary alignment in the sector west of the Karakoram Pass of the boundary of J&K State of India follows well-known natural features, has been recognized in history for all these years.”
Interestingly, the joint China-Pakistan survey of the ‘donated’ areas was conducted in1987 only, 24 years after the territory was offered to China; it means that in 1963, Pakistan did not even know the exact magnitude of her gift.
The traditional boundary runs along the watershed dividing the tributaries of the Yarkand river and that of the Hunza river; then it continues to the Kilik, Mintaka, Karchanai, Parpik and Khunjerab Passes. It later crossed the Shaksgam river and after passing the Aghil mountains, it follows the Aghil, Marpo and Shaksgam Passes up to the Karakoram Pass.
It was observed that no Chinese authority had ever reached these areas, “the Mir of Hunza (in Kashmir) exercised authority in this region and maintained posts and collected revenue.”
The conclusion was that Pakistan, by her own admission as well as by the UN resolutions, “has no right to act on behalf of any part of J&K. The UNCIP has clearly recognized the legality of the J&K Government and the right of India to safeguard the security of the State;” it was just an attempt by Pakistan to formally legalize her control over the northern areas of J&K. Sir Owen Dixon, who in 1950 had been nominated by the UN as the official mediator between India and Pakistan for Kashmir, had termed Pakistan’s action as “inconsistent with international law”.
The Historical Division concluded: “Since the basis of her claim to control over these areas has itself originated in illegalities, it is clear that she cannot use this illegal basis in order to substantiate her claims to negotiate on behalf of these areas.”
It is this historical wrong that the new maps published by the Government are trying to rectify …at least on paper.

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Archives of Leh

My article The Archives of Leh appeared in the Edit Page of The Pioneer.

Here is the link...

It is perhaps not too late to put the history of India in its proper perspective and undo the blunders committed in the 1950s and 1960s

As an aftermath of the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, the former State of Jammu & Kashmir has been reorganised into the new Union Territories (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The latter consists of two districts: Kargil and Leh. Subsequently, new maps have been prepared by the Surveyor-General of India showing the geographical outline of the new UTs; it is a welcome move by the Government to educate the people of India and the media (and hopefully, the biased foreign Press).
Interestingly, the Leh district of Ladakh includes the districts of Gilgit, Gilgit Wazarat, Chilhas and Tribal Territory of 1947, in addition to the known areas of Leh and, of course, the Aksai Chin, illegally occupied by China since the mid-1950s.
For several reasons, it is important that these maps have been updated. First there was often a discrepancy in the length of the Indo-China border on some Indian websites. Was the length 4,056 or 3,488 km?  The first figure is the only valid one as Gilgit-Baltistan (formerly the Gilgit agency) is legally a part of India. The Indo-China boundary starts at the trijunction of Afghanistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Xinjiang to reach the Karakoram Pass and further runs through the Karakoram and Karatagh passes and along the Kunlun in the north, and through Lanak La and across the western part of the Pangong Lake and then along the ridge parallel to the Indus, before crossing the Indus south-east of Demchok. Hopefully the wrong figures will now be rectified.
The fact that large parts of Ladakh are today occupied by China explain Beijing’s aggressive stance. Speaking of the creation of the two UTs, Geng Shuang, a spokesman of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the media: “China deplores and firmly opposes this. This is unlawful and void and this is not effective in any way and will not change the fact that the area is under Chinese actual control.” He urged India to “earnestly respect Chinese territorial sovereignty and uphold peace and tranquility in the border areas.”
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs did not leave the unwarranted attack unanswered: “We do not expect other countries, including China, to comment on matters that are internal to India, just as India refrains from commenting on the internal issues of other countries,” declared India’s Ministry for External Affairs spokesman. Referring to the Shaksgam Valley, he pointed out that China “illegally” acquired Indian territories from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir through the 1963 China-Pakistan Boundary Agreement. That infamous pact was signed by Pakistan’s Minister of External Affairs and his Chinese counterpart. The new maps will irritate China no end, as it virtually opens another sector along the Indo-Chinese disputed boundary.

Map of the 1987 Survey of the areas 'donated' to China
A secret note prepared by the historical division of the Ministry of External Affairs mentioned that “any such agreement will be ab initio illegal and invalid and will not bind India in any respect.” The note observed that the preamble states that the parties have agreed to formally delimit and demarcate the boundary between Xinjiang and the contiguous areas of Pakistan, the defence of which was under  the actual control of Karachi; Pakistan based its right on the fact that these areas were under her “actual control.” However,  the Indian note explained: “Under international law, the right of entering into treaties and agreements is an attribute of sovereignty. Furthermore, a sovereign cannot presume to exercise sovereign functions in respect of territory other than its own. Having regard to the UN resolutions of January 17, 1948, August 13, 1948 and January 5, 1949 (UNCIP Resolutions) it is clear that Pakistan cannot (and does not) claim to exercise sovereignty in respect of Jammu and Kashmir.”
Very few, even in India, realise the importance of this point. On March 5, 1963, speaking about China during a Calling Attention Motion in the Lok Sabha, the Prime Minister said: “In spite of its professions that it has never involved itself in the dispute over Kashmir or its absurd claim that the boundary negotiations have promoted friendship between the Chinese and Pakistani people and are in the interests of Asia and world peace, it is directly interfering in Indo-Pakistan relations. By doing this, China is seeking to exploit differences between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir question to further its own expansionist policy.”
Of course, since then, China has become Pakistan’s Iron brother, but the motivations have remained the same. Today’s publication of proper maps should only be a first step.
The logical follow-up should be to repatriate all the archives pertaining to Ladakh and the Gilgit Wazarat, to Leh, where a place should be dedicated to their preservation; it is crucial as the history of large chunks of the border with China lies in these records.
During the negotiations of “the Officials of India and China” in 1960, the Indian side noted: “A systematic settlement of revenue for the whole of Ladakh up to the traditional alignment was made during the time of Mehta Mangal who was Wazir or Governor between 1860 and 1865; and this settlement was revised during the period of his successor Johnson (1870-1881) and Radha Kishen Kaul (1882). The lists of villages in both the Revenue Assessment Report of 1902 and the Settlement Report of 1908 mentioned 108 villages, including Tanktse, Demchok, Chushul and Minsar... The Preliminary Report of Ladakh Settlement of 1908 made clear that these areas were part of Ladakh.”
The Indian side submitted a large quantity of such documents. These records will show that India exercised control over the various frontier areas and collected revenues from the border villages till Independence.
These records should be kept in Leh; it should also include the history of the Gilgit Wazarat and other territories now shown under the Ladakh district and how Shaksgam Valley was illegally offered to Communist China.
This would greatly help the project of the Ministry of Defence to write the history of India’s borders, the project for which was recently announced: “The work will cover various aspects of borders, including tracing its making; making and unmaking and shifting of borders; role of security forces; role of borderland people encompassing their ethnicity, culture and socio-economic aspects of their lives.”
It is perhaps not too late to put the history of India in its proper perspective and undo the blunders committed in the 1950s and 1960s.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Why India's northern borders are threatened

My article Why India's northern borders are threatened appeared in Mail Today/Daily O

Here is the link... 

While the world speaks of artificial intelligence and facial recognition, India can't find better ways to monitor unwanted elements on the borders.

In the months to come, the 4056-kilometrre long India-China border will be in the news; probably for wrong reasons.
Despite last month’s ‘Chennai Connect’ between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping at Mamallapuram, Beijing continues its aggressive stance on Ladakh; the formation of two separate Union Territories for J&K and Ladakh seems to have irritated Beijing no end.

A sore point for China
Geng Shuang, a spokesman of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the media that "China deplores and firmly opposes this. This is unlawful and void and this is not effective in any way and will not change the fact that the area is under Chinese actual control;" he further urged India to "earnestly respect Chinese territorial sovereignty and uphold peace and tranquillity in the border areas.”
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs did not leave the unwarranted attack unanswered: “We do not expect other countries, including China, to comment on matters that are internal to India, just as India refrains from commenting on the internal issues of other countries," said the Indian spokesman. He requested China to stick to the ‘Political Parameters and Guiding Principles’ jointly agreed by the two sides to proceed on the border issue in 2005; the Indian official also pointed out that China ‘illegally’ acquired Indian territories from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) through a China-Pakistan Boundary Agreement of 1963; he was referring to the Shaksgam Valley.
If China decides to play this game, India could easily point out (with solid historical proofs) that Eastern Turkestan (now Xinjiang) was militarily annexed by the Peoples’ Republic of China in October-December 1949 and Tibet was occupied a year later.
In the present context, it is vital for India to develop its Northern borders, to open new roads, provide better telecom facilities, decent health services and education infrastructure for the local populations, who have already started migrating in large numbers. One solution to stop the hemorrhage is sustainable tourism.
Pema Khundu, the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh created a stir on Twitter; he was seen riding a buggy, near the Tibet border, north of Tawang; the purpose of the adventurous drive over the hilly terrains, was to promote tourism; Kiren Rijiju, the Union Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs accompanied Khandu; they rode an ATV Polaris for a distance of 107 km from PT Tso (also known as Madhuri lake) to the remote village of Mago. In a tweet, Rijiju mentioned the scenic beauty: “The state, mostly habituated over high altitudes of mountain ranges, is replete with stunning natural delights. The hilly areas also pose a good scope for adventure sports over snow laden valleys and glistening scenic beauties of natural lakes.”
Though roads are slowly coming up, the development infrastructure still remains far slower than in Tibet, although from Ladakh to Arunachal, the government is finally taking measures to tackle the problem. But thanks to a ‘dual use’ approach, China has done remarkably well to develop its side of the borders; every piece of infrastructure can be used by the civil administration, for example to accommodate tourists (last year, some seven million visited Nyingchi, the prefecture bordering Arunachal Pradesh) or by the People’s Liberation Army, when required.

Boost border growth
Last week, China Daily announced that 133 villagers from 29 households had been resettled at Puma Changthang, a village north of Bhutan: “Sharing a 25-km border with Bhutan where the average altitude tops 5,300 meters above sea level, the Puma Changthang township is renowned as the world's highest township.” The article noted that China’s objective was to make these border areas prosper; some 200 such model villages are said to have been built close to India’s border over the past three years.
In India, everything goes slowly, though efforts are made. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh recently inaugurated the strategically located ‘Col Chewang Rinchen Setu’, a bridge built over River Shyok, connecting Durbuk and Daulat Beg Oldie in Eastern Ladakh. The Minister reiterated “the Government’s unwavering commitment to bolster border infrastructure to effectively deal with any threats that undermine the peace and tranquillity in the country.” At the same time, he announced that the Siachen glacier base-camp will be opened to tourism.
Both strategic and economic development need to go hand in hand.
Another example, the government has recently approved the construction of 18 border tracks along the border. Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kishan Reddy called it a critical infrastructure to enhance the capability of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).

Spruce up Arunachal
Unfortunately, it is far from enough.
While being firm with China and getting ready for the worse, new ways to diffuse the tensions are tried, for example India and China will have 'coordinated patrols' in disputed areas along LAC, such as the Fish-Tail 1 & 2 in Arunachal Pradesh. According to The Hindustan Times: “India made the proposal for coordinated patrolling at a high-level meeting between the Indian Army and the PLA in June.”
Another factor is: looking after the border populations; a gesture shows how keen the locals are to be integrated: the residents of 10 villages of Upper Siang (Arunachal Pradesh) have recently decided not to claim compensation for their land for the construction of a road to improve the connectivity to the border; this will greatly help the construction of a proposed 150km-long Yingkiong-Bishing two-lane highway; Bishing, the last Indian village near the McMahon Line, is home to around 100 people from the Memba tribe.
But in many other ways, India still lives under the British Raj, the most blatant example is the Inner Line system which still hampers the development of the State. It is difficult to understand that while the world speaks of Artificial Intelligence or facial recognition, the Indian State can’t find a better way to monitor unwanted elements on the borders.
In the meantime, China will continue to put pressure.

Monday, November 4, 2019

The Ninth Panchen Lama and China

The Ninth Panchen Lama with Chiang Kai-Chek and 'Young Marsha' Zhang Xueliang
The Dalai Lama vs the Panchen Lama
During the first two decades of the twentieth century, the main factor which weakened the Tibetan State was the dispute between the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. The differences between the two Lamas were fully exploited by the Chinese to their own advantage. The British themselves were not innocent in the affair. The split between the Ninth Panchen Lama and the Thirteenth Dalai Lama began over a trivial matter of taxation, although it involved the important issue of national security and the financing of the army.
Between Simla Convention in 1913 until the early twenties, Tibet had been waging a constant war with China in Kham Province of Eastern Tibet. This war cost the Tibetan Government dearly. Even when the British provided arms and ammunition to Lhasa, the British had to be paid.
The Dalai Lama’s objective was to build a strong army for defence based on the British model of military training.
From the start two main ‘lobbies’ tried to oppose the changes; their objections were not only ideological, but primarily with regard to distribution of power and who would pay to raise the Army.
Things took a turn for the worse when it became clear that the monasteries would have to contribute from the revenue of their estates.
When the Tibetan Government in Lhasa decided to unilaterally tax the Tashilhunpo, the seat of the Panchen Lamas, for a quarter of the Army’s expenses, it provided the needed excuse to spark off the old dispute between Lhasa and the monastery. The question of taxation brought many other problems to the surface but the main one was the issue of the administrative autonomy of different provinces and the large estates in Tibet.
The Tashilhunpo administration regarded Lhasa’s decision to impose this new taxation as interference in its internal affairs: the Tashilhunpo considered itself a local government and resented being treated as a vassal by Lhasa. This may well have been one of the points, apart from collection of taxes that the Dalai Lama wanted to make: there was only one Government of Tibet, that of the Ganden Phodang headed by the Kashag with its seat in Lhasa.
Relations between Lhasa and Shigatse deteriorated when in 1917, Lhasa decided to levy a new tax on the Tashilhunpo’s estate in Gyantse district. Again the Panchen Lama’s administration informed Lhasa that since they could not afford to pay the tax, they would not pay it.
When the Panchen Lama took the matter to the British Government, the situation turned sour. The Panchen Lama then decided to leave Tibet for China. He made it a point to declare that “he did not want to further embarrass the Dalai Lama … [I am leaving] for a short period to make it easier for His Holiness the Dalai Lama.”
The Panchen Lama reached China in February 1924.
The Chinese were delighted to welcome him. He was received with full honours by the Emperor and although the Chinese were very much engaged in their own civil war, they felt confident that with the Panchen Lama’s card in their hand, they could again have a role to play in Tibetan affairs.
The departure of the Panchen Lama, who was highly revered by the Tibetan people all over the country, was considered a bad omen. He was known to all as a gentle and very erudite Lama. His departure somehow strengthened the conservative forces in Lhasa. The old habit of keeping Tibet closed to the outside world again prevailed.
The split between the two religious leaders was made full use of by the Chinese government to ensure its control over Tibet. The saga continued with the succeeding Dalai Lama (Fourteenth) and Panchen Lama (Tenth) and still continues today.
The differences between the two Lamas was symbolic of the division between those who thought that Tibet should assert its independence — build a strong Army and have an independent foreign policy — and those who believed in a more traditional relationship with China.

An Article in the Chinese Media
China Tibet Online recently published an article on the Ninth Panchen Lama's first visit to Nanjing, the seat of the National government.
“At the beginning of May 1931, the capital of the National Government, Nanjing, experienced spring rain. The mission of the Ninth Panchen Lama to Nanjing was to attend the nation’s most important meeting, the National Convention for the first time,” explained the website.
The arrival of the Panchen Lama in the Nationalists’ capital was described in detail: “the National Government has made extremely elaborate arrangements for the occasion. …The car [of the Lama] had ‘welcome’ characters; it was decorated with apricot yellow silk.” Inside the car, the seats were also covered with apricot yellow silk;” incense was burning around.
Ma Fuxiang, chairman of the Mongolian and Tibetan Committee, told the Panchen Lama as the latter arrived: "Despite the rain today, the number of people welcoming you are very large, a committee is coming to Beijing [to receive you]; the masses are also enjoying your presence."
The Ninth Panchen Lama answered with a smile: "Spring Rain is good."
The political activities of the Panchen Lama, who was for the first time in the capital soon became the focus of the media attention, observed the article.
On May 5, 1931, the opening ceremony of the National Convention took place. The Panchen Lama, who wore a yellow satin robe, sat in the guest seat; he was ‘dazzling’, according to a Chinese report; he declared that though he was far away from his people, he had to come for the grand meeting and meet the national representatives.
After the opening ceremony, the Ninth Panchen Lama went to visit the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum and depose a wreath; he conveyed to the outside world his firm support for the ‘Five-Nation Republic’ concept.

Ma Fuxiang, 'Young Marshal' and the Panchen Lama
A month later, the Ninth Panchen Lama visited again the Sun Yat-Sen's Mausoleum; a pair of golden carvings from Shenyang was presented to him in Sun’s Mourning Hall; the carvings were made of bronze and wrapped in gold foil.
On May 16, during a military parade, the Ninth Panchen Lama was seen near Chiang Kai-shek “which is quite meaningful,” noted the article.
On May 25, the Ninth Panchen Lama delivered a speech in the Grand Hall of the Central Party in Nanjing in honour of Sun Yat-Sen. In his speech, he declared: “Nine years have passed since I arrived in the mainland. I have come to the capital to see the political prosperity and the spirit of the National Assembly. I am optimistic about the future of the country. If the government loses Tibet [to the Tibetan government], I will inevitably be sad. I hope the government can use its political power to prevent this. I hope that the government will pay attention to the suffering of the frontier people.”
He clearly wanted Nationalist China to help him to return to Tibet.
He hoped that the Central Government would treat equally all ethnic groups in the country [China]. His sincere support to the central government deeply touched the government and the people, said a report.
Ma Fuxiang, chairman of the Mongolian and Tibetan Committee, wrote a secret report about this to the Central Committee on June 21, 1931.
The article also noted that the Panchen Lama was well-versed in teaching religion and that the Tibetans were deeply rooted in [Buddhism]: “In order to publicize the central government decrees and soothe the Buddhist people in the local lama temples, we plan to invite the special Panchen Erdeni to be the ambassador in Xuanhua, and to choose the appropriate location in Qinghai and Xikang provinces to organize all the administrative matters.”
Does it mean that the Nanjing government planned to have a separate administration outside Central Tibet to manage the affairs of the Land of Snows?
Probably because Nanjing promised to make internal arrangements, provide the necessary funds, and planned for the annual banquet of the Panchen Lama; the President of China had however to approve the details of these measures.
On June 24, the Ninth Panchen Lama, after his first visit to Nanjing “was highly praised by the National Government and given the highest reputation …because he respected the peaceful reunification. He was awarded the title of ‘Huguo Xuanhua Guanghui Yuanjue Master’ [the Grand Master who Protects the Country and Propagates its Values]”.
On the same day, the Panchen Lama wrote a letter to the top leaders of the National Government, in a deep and affectionate manner and self-humility; the commentary said: "There is nothing but a deep understanding of the country.”
On June 27, 1931, the Nanjing National Government sent an ambassador to meet the Panchen Lama: “the Ninth Panchen Lama complied with the customs of the Qing Dynasty, and sincerely thank the National Government for the recognition of his country [Tibet]” noted the report.
Then, the chairman and the members of the National Government took the seats: “The Ninth Panchen Lama went to the Chairman, exchanged khata, and then went to the interview room: “The Chairman [Chang kai-shek?] is seated, the inner long left seat, the chairman of the Mongolian Tibetan Committee, the right seat, the Panchen."
At 10 am in the morning on July 1, 1931, the Panchen Lama was awarded the title "Master of Protection of the People's Republic of China" in the Grand Hall of the Nanjing National Government.
Dai Jitao, Ma Fuxiang, Chen Guofu, Kong Xiangxi and other national government officials were present. The Panchen Lama wore yellow clothes: “When he slowly entered, he was accompanied by site military music to the auditorium.”
The ceremony was presided over by the acting representative of the National Government on behalf of the Chairman [Chiang?]; he delivered a speech and hoped that the Panchen Lama "will carry forward the light, and follow the government's intention." The Panchen Lama spoke of "Piously Praying for the Protection of the Country Based" and said: "There is only one religion, praying sincerely, and protecting [the nation]."
Photographer witnessed this important historical moment.
The National Government presented a gift to the Panchen Lama who stayed in a Guest House in the heavily guarded headquarters of the General Command: “It shows that the National Government attaches great importance to the safety of the Ninth Panchen Lama.”
After the ceremony was completed, "all the dignitaries and journalists shook hands with the Panchen Lama and congratulated him."
The article concluded by saying: “The high-standard courtesy and the respect for the patriotic Buddhist leaders at the national level further strengthened the patriotic heart of the Ninth Panchen Lama to fully safeguard national unity and territorial integrity.”

Zhang Xueliang
Incidentally, there is a photo of the Ninth Panchen Lama with Chiang Kai-shek and Zhang Xueliang known as the ‘Young Marshall’, who was the effective ruler of Northeast China and much of northern China after the assassination of his father, Zhang Zuolin (the ‘Old Marshal’).
During the 1936 Xian Incident, Zhang arrested and briefly imprisoned Chiang Kai-shek demanding that Chiang should start fighting the Japanese rather than the Communists (and have a United Front against the Communists). At that time, the Japanese had already taken over Manchuria. Zhou En-lai intervened and negotiated the release of Chiang Kai-shek. However, later Chiang turned the tables and got his revenge by arresting the ‘Young Marshall’ who remained under KMT house arrest till 1949 on the Mainland and later in Taiwan. Zhang eventually died in the US in 2001.
He is today a hero for Communist China …like the Ninth Panchen Lama.

The New Chinese Panchen Lama
Visiting the Mausoleum of the Yellow Emperor in Huangling, Yan'an, Shaanxi, Gyaltsen Norbu, the Eleventh Panchen Lama selected by China, recently offered baskets of flowers and a khata to the Huangdi Mausoleum. He purchased a 'prayer card' and wrote: "the prosperity of the motherland, national unity, and people's happiness," was his wishes.
He also said that patriotism and love education was in his heart: "Protecting the country and benefiting the people is my mission. No matter what kind of social position I am in, my initial mission will not change. I will always move in this direction."
He will soon be a hero in China too, like his predecessor.

Monday, October 28, 2019

How Xi Jinping crossed the Nepal hurdle

My article How Xi Jinping crossed the Nepal hurdle appeared in Mail Today/DailyO

Here is the link...

Important projects impacting India's security were inked between China and Nepal.
When Chinese President Xi Jinping boarded his Hongqi limousine in Mamallapuram, he was on his way to the airport and Nepal. Official Chinese media had announced that he would sign an extradition treaty à la Hong Kong with Nepal, partly to squeeze the Tibetan refugees living in the erstwhile Himalayan kingdom.

Kathmandu warned

It was presumed that the 10-hour stop in Kathmandu would be a cakewalk for the all-powerful general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) who was to meet Nepali Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, himself co-chairman of the Nepal Communist Party.
Before the visit, Oli had told Xinhua that Nepal was committed to strengthening its friendship with China and expanding the bilateral ties under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Though the two sides signed some 18 bilateral cooperation documents and agreed to elevate their relationship to a strategic partnership of cooperation, combined with an ever-lasting friendship for development and prosperity, the extradition treaty was never signed.
However, the Chinese media called President Xi's short visit (the first of a Chinese President in 26 years) a 'grand success', even if Kathmandu decided to shelve the treaty and a few other proposals, particularly to build border roads, at the last minute.
Nepal dropped some of its plans "following apprehensions they could infringe on its sovereignty", according to a financial daily. Instead of the extradition treaty, a milder pact on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters was signed, it added. There were apparently apprehensions "in sections of the Nepalese government that the extradition treaty will be used to clamp down against Tibetans and deportation of Tibetans to China," according to the newspaper. President Xi was furious; he warned that those not respecting the 'One China' policy would be crushed. According to Chinese state media, Xi told the Nepali PM during his stay in Kathmandu: "Anyone attempting to split China in any part of the country will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones. And any external forces backing such attempts at dividing China will be deemed by the Chinese people as pipe-dreaming." It is indeed rare for a head of state to use such words.
"While the immediate context would have been the Tibet issue… China watchers also saw it as a wider warning that applied to Hong Kong as well after more than four months of civil unrest and street violence," the South China Morning Post commented. The idea of National Defence University (NDU) similar to the Indian National Defence College, which had been discussed before the visit, was also dropped due to the Opposition's protests.

Key projects on track
However, important projects impacting India's security were inked, particularly the enhancement of the trans-Himalayan connectivity network which will eventually allow more Nepali goods to go to China: "We are concentrating ourselves on economic development through the BRI and other bilateral projects, China is our largest supporter," the Nepali PM declared. While the train from Shigatse to the Nepal border in Kyirong is coming soon, a feasibility study will now start to prolong the line to Kathmandu. "The plateau railway… is considered one of the world's most difficult railways to engineer. Now, the rail link is finally going to become a reality," The Global Times observed.
The Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece argued that a cross-Himalayan connectivity network "will have a far-reaching impact throughout Asia, achieving a decades-long dream: Connecting the Chinese and Indian economies." Though Delhi is probably not informed, China has India in mind while bringing the train to the Nepali capital: "The road to regional economic integration is always bumpy due to complex geopolitical issues, but we believe the three Asian nations can finally find a solution." Isn't it amazing that China is making plans involving India without Delhi's knowledge?

New developments
The Ratamate-Rasuwagadhi-Kyirong 400KV cross-border transmission line which will be constructed through a government-to-government (G2G) model shows that despite the extradition treaty fiasco, Nepal and China remain very close; interestingly it "will not be hampered even if the project suffered losses during the construction of the project," commented myRepublica. Meanwhile, the Second China Tibet Trans-Himalaya Forum for International Cooperation took place in Lulang, north of the Indian border in Arunachal Pradesh, China Daily reported. Here, China discussed the Himalayan connectivity with Nepal, Pakistan and Mongolia. "The forum is expected to help the region push forward its efforts to become an important gateway to South Asia and to build the Trans-Himalaya economic zone to fully integrate it into the Belt and Road Initiative," said the organisers.
Pakistan was represented by Naghmana Alamgir Hashmi, its ambassador to China, while Gobinda Bahadur Karkee, the Nepali consul general in Lhasa spoke for her country. Jiang Jie, a member of the Standing Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region's Communist Party said: "We will stick to President Xi Jinping's concept of neighbouring diplomacy of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness." Though the cancellation of the extradition treaty was a sign that Nepal can still take decisions on its own, the other projects are bound to change the balance in the region.
India needs to watch attentively.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

What if Nehru had used the IAF in 1962

Fifty seven years ago, the Chinese attacked India on the slopes of the Thagla ridge in NEFA as well as in Ladakh.
On this occasion, I re-post three old articles, including my interview with Wing Commander 'Jaggi' Nath What if Nehru had used the IAF in 1962, which appeared in

Also the account of a young captain who was taken to Tibet as POW war on October 20,  1962. He recalls his days in the camp in the Yarlung Valley.
I had earlier posted another account of the Indian POWs in Tibet on this blog as well as Brig Amar Jit Singh Behl's account of his experience on the front in October 1962.

Interview with Wing Commander 'Jaggi' Nath, MVC Bar

'If we had sent a few airplanes (into Tibet), we could have wiped the Chinese out.'
'And everything could have been different in the 1962 War.'
'They did not believe me there was no Chinese air force.'
'Can you imagine what would have happened if we had used the IAF at that time?'

'The Chinese would have never dared do anything down the line.'

Wing Commander Jag Mohan (‘Jaggi’) Nath, MVC (Bar)

Canberra plane
Wing Commander Jag Mohan (‘Jaggi’) Nath is the first of the six officers to have been twice decorated with the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC), India's second highest war time military decoration. He was awarded the MVC for his contributions in the Sino-Indian War of 1962 and Indo-Pakistan War of 1965.
‘Jaggi’ Nath was born in Layyah in undivided Punjab in 1930 into a family of doctors; he studied in the prestigious Government College in Lahore. Soon after Partition, he joined the Royal Indian Air Force as a trainee; he was commissioned in the Indian Air Force in October 1950 and served till 1969, when he took voluntary retirement to join Air India.
In a letter to Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha in 2014, Wing Commander Nath spoke of his mentor, Marshal of IAF Arjan Singh: “Like a father figure, he had always been concerned and caring. I owe my Bar to MVC [in 1965] strictly to him. His personal allocation of all reconnaissance tasks, code naming me ‘Professor’, kept me safe and alive on all my missions. I owe my happy times to him –of the 11 years on Canberras, 8 years in 106 [Squadron] without a break only on [the] Canberra, his consistent appreciation gave the squadron a sense of achievement and kept my spirits sky high.”
He received his first MVC for his role in reconnaissance missions over the Aksai Chin and Tibet, before and during the 1962 war; the citation says: “As Flight Commander of an Operational Squadron, Squadron Leader Jag Mohan Nath has fulfilled a number of hazardous operations tasks involving flying over difficult mountain terrain, both by day and by night, in adverse weather conditions and in complete disregard of his personal safety. He has displayed conspicuous gallantry, a very high sense of duty and a high degree of professional skill.”
His missions proved immensely useful to learn everything about the Chinese military build-up on the Tibetan plateau. Unfortunately, the political leadership refused to believe the hard evidence gathered during of his sorties or use them.
His conclusions were: China had NO Air Force worth this name on the Tibetan plateau in 1962. The fate of the Sino-Indian War could have been totally different had India used its own Air Force, but the Government in Delhi chose to ignore to the findings of the brave airman.

The soon-nonagenarian meets Claude Arpi in his modest flat in Mumbai. He is still fired-up by the events of 1962.

Wing Commander Jag Mohan Nath with Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh.
CA: Tell us about the years before the 1962 conflict with China? Tell us about 106 Squadron, using Canberra planes. Once you said that the planes are not just Air Force assets, but national assets!

JMN: I got to know exactly what was happening [in Tibet].
But let me tell you from the start. I joined 106 Squadron on January 1, 1960. My Squadron was involved in strategic Aerial Photographic Reconnaissance; Canberra airplanes were used all over the border to survey and update the maps. We covered the entire Indian territory three or four times; this could be done only with the Canberra and not with the Dakotas, which were used in the early years, as they flew at lower altitude. The Canberra, a bomber, was perfect for surveying.
I will give you one example, 106 Squadron was tasked to survey the Aksai Chin; one day, we were flying towards Xinjiang when we saw a white line, which was the Aksai Chin road; we spotted troops on the road, when we saw this happening, we passed on the information to the Air Force Headquarters. This was probably at the end of 1960 [in early 1961, 14 J&K Militia (Ladakhi) moved its Headquarters to Partapur; it was feared that the Chinese, who had already penetrated along the Chip Chap river, might occupy Daulat Beg Oldi or DBO].
We put on our reconnaissance cameras on; there was one single camera used for survey and four other cameras for taking pictures; the findings were later reported on maps; each time we saw something interesting, we switched on the photographic cameras.

CA: You were the only one do this?

JMN: I was not only one. That was the job of the Squadron to survey these areas. This information was passed on [to the Air Headquarters], but nobody said anything.
In late 1960 or early 1961, the Chinese had a confrontation with the Jammu & Kashmir Border Police at DBO; it was the first confrontation. The J&K Police had already realized that they Chinese were up to some tricks, but everything was kept at a low key because Pandit Nehru and Krishna Menon, the Defence Minister, were totally switched off [from reality].
The first reconnaissance flight of Squadron 106 over this area was done by me. My Commanding Officer [later Air Marshal] Randhir Singh was on leave at that time, I was alone. I was briefed by Western Air Command to go, find out from where the Chinese have come and take photographs.

CA: In the White Papers on China, the Chinese government always complains of some Indian planes ‘intruding’ in Tibet air space. Was it you?

JMN: Yes, that was me.
I flew several times, in some cases up to three to four hours over Tibet, which was under Chinese occupation. My reconnaissance used to start from Gilgit area [Karakoram Pass] and I went westward; I would sometime do reconnaissance over the entire Himalaya, sometime till the trijunction with Burma [today’s Anjaw district of Arunachal Pradesh]. I photographed the entire route, following the Brahmaputra [Yarlung Tsangpo], not one time, but so many times.

Wing Commander Jag Mohan Nath
with Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh
CA: Do you mean to say that before 1962, the Army and Air Force Headquarters had a clear picture of what was happening?

JMN: Sometime at the end of 1960, one day, Air Chief Marshal Subroto Mukerjee, [the Chief of Air Staff or CAS] was on leave; he may have been sick. Air Vice Marshal [AVM] Diwan Atma Ram Nanda, then Deputy Chief of the Air Force, was holding forth in Delhi, at that time.
I am talking of the job given to the Air Force by the Army to survey DBO. AVM Nanda told me: “You go and take pictures and I will send an escort with you.” Can you believe it, an escort, in case the Chinese would attack me [with an airplane]!
The whole thing was weird.” AVM Nanda told me: “Another Canberra will escort you while you take the picture of DBO.”
That day, the clouds were very low. I had to fly below the clouds to take the pictures. While the Canberra at the back was armed with guns; my plane had no provisions for such a thing, it was purely a reconnaissance aircraft, fitted with cameras.
It was my first flight [over the Aksai Chin] and I was keen to get results.
As I went, the clouds were very low. I could not take a picture. I went to the Shyok river [The Shyok River, a tributary of the Indus River, flows through northern Ladakh. The river widens at the confluence with the Nubra River].
The river made a U turn and DBO is on the top.
So, I went ahead while Squadron Leader [AIK] Suares of 5 Squadron was keeping an eye on me in case the Chinese come. I went down under the clouds and followed the Shyok river valley, then I came up and went down again following the River. When I went down again, I had to slow down, because the turning radius of the Canberra is low (if you fly slow, the turning radius in smaller). Suares asked me “Jaggi, are you still carrying on”.
I said: “Yes, I am on, the cameras are on”. He asked: “Are you still planning to continue?” I answered: “Yes, I am going”. That was the discussion between both of us.
I kept going down like this and suddenly, I saw the Chinese there. I took photographs of the Chinese soldiers all over the place. I could have taken their portrait. They were all around.

Front page of Times of India for his first Maha Vir Chakra in 1963.

CA: How many Chinese could you see?

JMN: I could not count them, but they were there in good number and I took photographs. That was enough [for my job]. Suares said: “It is enough, we have finished.” We had already taken the pictures. The job was done; later, all the photos were put in front of AVM Nanda, the acting Air Chief, and I explained to him how it had happened. I said that the pictures were taken from very low and all the details could be seen; the Chinese were clearly there. Then, messages came from Pandit Nehru, from Krishna Menon [the Defence Minister] and Lt Gen BM (Biji) Kaul; they would like to talk to the reconnaissance party.

CA: Gen Kaul was Chief of General Staff?

JMN: No, he had not yet taken over, but he was the main advisor of Pandit Nehru; he was the bloody favorite. So, with Air Marshal Nanda, I went to South Block to see Krishna Menon. We were waiting outside when Biji Kaul came. He started talking away: “I know, I know, these fellows [the Chinese] are there. They asked me to throw them back. I can throw them back, not a problem! But they will be back the next day. It has to be planned out properly.”
I was surprised that he would speak like this in front of a squadron leader. I was a junior officer, a low level officer. He continued shouting: “You saw the Chinese soldiers.” I said “Yes, Sir, I saw them. You can blow up the pictures.”
“OK, go to the Defence Minister,” he finally said.
So AVM Nanda and I landed up in the office of Krishna Menon. He did not ask anything, he just said “Did you see the Chinese soldiers?” I answered “Yes Sir, I saw them”. “That’s alright, you can go”, he said. He must have passed the information to Pandit Nehru, but a similar reaction.
There was a total breakdown; I still have such a poor impression of Biji Kaul shooting his mouth without knowing anything.
Krishna Menon also, I told him there were Chinese soldiers and that was it all. It was amazing.
They did not know how to handle the situation.
They knew for more than a year about the Aksai Chin [cutting across Indian territory].
When the 1962 War started, [the Air and Army Headquarters] had all the information. You probably know that the confrontation had started earlier than October 20, [this probably refers to the Dhola Post incident in Tawang sector of the NEFA, when some 600 Chinese soldiers surrounded the Indian troops on September 8, 1962].
On October 20, it started in DBO, and the Galwan River [a tributary of the Chipshap River, which in turn drains into the Shyok River. The main stream of this river rises near the Depsang plain near DBO].
I am still getting worked up when I think of these things.
I remember the Aksin Chin, at that time. I went, the clouds were again low, the war had actually started. In one sortie, I flew over the Aksai Chin, I had to find out where exactly where the Chinese were, what were their positions, their backups, etc. It was well after October 20.

With Defence Minister YB Chavan showing pictures of the recces

CA: Was it at the time of the battle of Rezang-la?

JMN: Yes, exactly.
I took pictures of the Northern borders; it was a three hour flight. I flew up and down [showing gesture of sweeping trajectory]. I could see the concentration of the Chinese; I would go around and take pictures. The Chinese could see me and started shooting with their rifles. How could they shoot down an airplane with a rifle? It was just not possible.
The point is that they did not have anything; NO weapon to shoot down an aircraft, No Air Force!
I went down all the way to Kailash and Taklakot [trijunction Tibet-Nepal-India]; the flight lasted three to four hours.
I got the full picture of how many Chinese soldiers were there; I got everything. The Government had full information at that time.
I had already surveyed the Galwan river area; there too Delhi had the complete picture.
I was getting a full view seating in the front row and could tell how the war was progressing, what was happening. Without reconnaissance, you can’t do anything. Of course today, we are out of business, because of the drones and the quality of the cameras.
The SR-71 was still used for a long time, because it would fly at high altitude and nobody could shoot it down. [The Lockheed SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was a long-range, strategic reconnaissance aircraft that was operated by the United States Air Force.]
For a long time, planes like that were still required to collect intelligence, because the results were immediate. But the SR-71 are today totally out of the game. For a long time, the images shot by the satellite were not immediate as it took time to analyze them.
[In 1962], I spent hours doing reconnaissance flights.
After October 20, 1962, I used to go with Air Marshal Elric Pinto, the Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Air Command, to meet the Chief of Air Force [CAS], Aspi Engineer. I used to go for a briefing of what needed to be done, but also about what I had done; so many times, I went [to meet the CAS]. I can tell you, that if Elric Pinto had been the Chief, things would have been so very different. Aspi Engineer was too low key.
I told the Air Headquarters: “I am flying hours over Tibet, if they had radars, they [the Chinese] should have picked up the phone and said there is a bloody airplane flying [over our country]. They had radars [but nothing happened]. I could fly three to four hours, but nothing would happen. It is the proof that they had no Air Force in Tibet [near the border]. The best proof is that I was never shot down, except with their rifles.
In 1962, we had all the information about the Chinese [deployment].
I mentioned this to Elric Pinto.
If we had sent a few airplanes [in Tibet], we could have wiped them all out. I told AM Pinto: “we could wipe them out”. And everything could have been different in [the] 1962 [War].

CA: I was once told by Air Chief Marshal Anil Tipnis that when he was a young pilot in 1962, one day, he and his colleagues were ordered to board their aircrafts in Ambala …to support the operations in Ladakh. And suddenly they were asked to deplane. Orders had come from the ‘higher ups’ in Delhi, not to use the Air Force. Who gave this order?

JMN: Listen to this. When I went to Elric Pinto and told him: “We could finish them off in no time, do you know what he said?”. He told me that the Indian Government believed that the Chinese had bombers, they could bomb Delhi and other cities. This information was passed by the top, by Pandit Nehru and Krishna Menon and [later] the information percolated down. [As a result] they decided not to commit the Air Force.
My feeling today is that question [of bombing big cities] may have come for discussion, but they did not believe me that there was no Chinese Air Force. They must have thought “will the IAF will be able to defend the cities!”
There was no [air] confrontation with the Chinese, but if we had had it, it would have been a different ball game; however there was Zero Possibility, as they had no Air Force. The person who should have put his foot down was Air Chief Aspi Engineer. Otherwise why was the Air Force not used to support the Army which was getting beatings everywhere. We could have [first] verified their positions [and then used the IAF].
Can you imagine what would have happened if we had used the IAF at that time? Chinese would have never dared do anything down the line.

What type of set-up India had?
We had the information at our end: the Chinese Air Force was grounded for lack of spares. They were mainly using Mig-17, but as China had problems with Russia, they did get the supply of spare parts; the planes were blocked; other planes were on the Korean front, from where they could not move.
Even a small airplane could not land in Tibet; they had no forward strip at all. Further for their fighter planes, it was a one-way trip [from Korea] as they had no fuel to go back.
All this information was available. What excuse did we have to not use the Air Force? Things could have been completely different, if the Air Force had been used.

Extracts of a letter addressed by Wing Commander JM Nath to Air Chief Arup Raha, in September 10, 2014.

It was always a common knowledge that China was equipped with Migs-15s and 17s. Delhi was out of their range. The shortage of spares as a result of falling out with Russia in 1960 had almost grounded their Air force.
Hours were spent by me personally in broad day light over Tibet and Aksai Chin. Most prominent - a 3 hrs flight at 100 ft AGL [above ground level] covering whole of Aksai Chin-DBO to Chashul [Chushul] and Demchok continuing to Shipkila pass [Himachal Pradesh] and Taklakot near Manasarovar. Thereafter, in broad daylight, the long flights from the origin of Brahmaputra till Pasighat (Trijunction of India, Burma and China) for four hours, numerous milk-runs over the eastern battle front and the adjoining 50-70 nm [nautical miles] area north into Tibet. Thousands of Squadron’s Recce photographs then are a matter of record with IAF and the Army Hq [headquarters]. One may ask, where was the Lack of Intelligence and where was China’s Air Force and their Air defence set up? This account may be considered as from a front seat witness to the 1962 tragic show.”

(The second part of this interview will be on Wing Commander ‘Jaggi’ Nath role in the 1965 War against Pakistan and his second Maha Vir Chakra).

1963: Indian PoWs in Beijing

Some Indian PoWs in Tibet in 1962-63 with their Chinese guards
(first row left, Lt Col Gurdial Singh, 3 J&K)
I recently came across an interesting book, My Peking Memoirs of the Chinese Invasion of India by Dr Purnendu Kumar Banerjee, the Indian Chargé d’Affaires in Beijing during the Sino-Indian War.
In the chapter reproduced below, he mentioned the reception given to the senior Indian officers who had spent more than six months as prisoner of war in Tibet, in extremely dramatic conditions.
Against their will, the officers were taken on a propaganda tour of 'New China'.
The Communuist leadership had planned to 'parade' these officers on the Tiananment Sqaure on May 1 on the occasion of the Labour Day.
Brig John Dalvi strongly opposed this final humiliation for his men.
The Chinese had not choice, but to drop their plans.
It is in these circumstances that they were 'allowed' to visit the Indian Embassy in Beijing (it was certainly part of Beijing's propaganda efforts, to show how 'liberal' was China).
Before going into PK Banerjee's memoirs, here is the account of Maj Gen (then Lt Col) KK Tewari, one of the Commanding Officers who spent seven months in captivity.

If you are interested, you can read this old post, POW in Tibet (Gen Krishna Tewari's book, A SOLDIER’S VOYAGE OF SELF DISCOVERY is also downloaded from here).

One day a couple of us even had a walk from the hotel to the Tiananmen Square, which was in the news recently due to the student unrest in China. On 30th April, we were taken to the Great Wall of China which is supposedly the only man-made structure in the world visible from space. Built in 300 B.C. by the Chou Dynasty, it is 3,000 miles long (1,700 miles of it in the plains and the rest in the mountainous area), it took 300,000 men ten years to complete it, used enough material to build a wall 8 feet high and 3 feet thick around the world, has an average height of 28 feet 8 inches with a base width of 24 feet and a top width of 18 feet. We were also shown the famous Ming tombs.
On 1st May, we saw the fire-works from the roof of the hotel to celebrate May Day.
On 2nd May evening we were entertained to tea at the Indian Embassy and a warm reception by Dr. PK Banerjee, who embraced each one of us at the entrance. The Chinese guards, of course, were left outside and it was a lovely feeling to step into the ‘little India’ in Peking. However, all the time our thoughts were on our return to our homeland.
It was on 3 May that we left Peking for our journey home.
On our last night in Peking, we were taken to a musical show put on by an oriental troupe who performed Indian, Pakistani and Ceylonese dances and songs. It was an enjoyable treat. We had to
be up early for the 45 mile drive to the airport and after a lot of photographs, we took off at 5:20 a.m. from Peking in two IL 14 aircraft. We landed at Sian for refuelling at 8:45 a.m., were given, surprisingly enough, a very poor breakfast after all the excellent service we had been given till then and took off again at 10:20 a.m. We had another brief landing at Chengdu at 12:45 to pick up Rattan who had been left behind earlier due to his illness, took off at 13:25 and landed at Kunming at 15:45.

My Peking Memoirs of the Chinese Invasion of India (Clairon Books, New Delhi) by Purnendu Kumar Banerjee (Indian Chargé d’Affaires in Beijing)
Chapter 30

I mentioned earlier our attempts to have the International Red Cross in Switzerland assist in the disposal of dead bodies and. the release of Indian troops and officers. As the Chinese refused to deal with the International Red Cross, the matter remained confused and a solution to the problem was delayed. At the same-time the Chinese exploited the situation to their benefit in various ways. Since the invasion and even long after the ceasefire, they played up their propaganda. For example, they maintained that Nehru, as an agent of the imperialists, had forced the Indian troops to attack a friendly neighbour, China; that the Indian troops had never been properly looked after and cared for; that the Indian Government showed no interest in the disposal of the dead bodies and the release of prisoners; that 'due to the goodwill and- friendship of the Chinese troops', the Indian troops were being taken good care of and were being sent home to be reunited with their families despite the Indian government's reluctance to help or assist in the matter; and that the departing troops had been expressing their thanks and gratitude to .China for her "magnanimous" attitude and treatment. Such propaganda was evident in the daily broadcasts on Peking radio, not only in Chinese - but also in Indian languages.
Another matter was concerned with the repatriation of about two thousand Chinese from India which was agreed to by India. Consequently, efforts were made for their transport mainly by boat, but the Chinese turned on their propaganda and compared the situation to Nazi concentration camps. Meanwhile, other attacks on India's news media continued and so did the protest notes.
By early spring in 1963, it was clear the three thousand nine hundred persons belonging to the Indian armed forces were prisoners in Chinese hands. Though a large number of our troops were eventually released after considerable effort by the Chinese to brainwash them with propaganda, an equally large number remained unaccounted for. In the last category were twenty-seven officers and I requested the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for information about them. This request was turned down and I was told that the Indian Red Cross should approach the Chinese Red Cross in the matter. While this was still pending, I was having dinner one evening at an East European embassy, when a newspaper reporter from another East European country, whom I knew well, asked me in private if I had heard about the captive Indian officers? I told him that I had no news and that my legitimate request for such information had been rejected by the Chinese Foreign Ministry. He then told me, in confidence, that according to the latest information, one of his colleagues had seen the Indian officers in Nanking and that they were being taken by bus and train to many large cities and, possibly, would soon be brought to Peking.
I thanked him sincerely.
The same evening I requested to see the Foreign Minister, Chen Yi.
The next day, I was given an appointment to see the Vice-Foreign Minister as Chen Yi was out of town, which in other words meant that the latter was not prepared to see me. When I met the Vice-Foreign Minister, I opened fire. I told him that the Chinese were continuing to violate international law and conventions such as the Geneva Convention, and this was unacceptable and regrettable. First the Chinese had refused to deal with the International Red Cross in matters of the dead and the release of Indian troops resulting in delay, harassment, humiliation and more suffering. At the•same time, the Chinese were engaged in constant and cheap propaganda about Indian troops being happy to be in Chinese prisons where they were loved. The Vice-Foreign Minister tried to interrupt me because the language and the tone I was using were not often applied in "diplomatic dialogue". He could•not stop me. I continued. I said I had information that the Indian officers in captivity had been separated from their troops. and were being paraded in public, in blatant violation of international law, international practice and international conventions, in particular the Geneva Convention, even though China was a signatory to these conventions. I demanded that this cruel circus must stop, that this kind of thing was unknown in the civilized world; and that the prisoners must be released.
The Vice-Foreign Minister was perspiring profusely and was visibly shaken. His•aide and interpreter fumbled while translating. Though my words were somewhat harsh, I kept my expression calm. I knew with conviction that the Chinese had made a serious blunder. He wanted to know my source of information. I told him that I was not prepared to disclose this but I was prepared to accept his assurance that the Indian officers were not being taken from city to city, in public places and in public view. He tried to avoid the tight corner I had placed him in by saying that they were not prisoners and were not being treated as such. They were visitors to a friendly country and had expressed their wish to see China before going home, which would hopefully be soon. Then I opened my second round of fire. I told him that I would enjoy Chinese fairy tales in other circumstances but not in such a serious matter.
Were they captives of the Chinese or not? If they had been captured, were they not prisoners? Then shouldn't they be governed by the Geneva Convention? If they were not prisoners, why had they been kept under guard for more than six months away from their homes, families and friends? I repeated my two demands, but I added that in case the Chinese failed to respond positively in the matter, India would be compelled to inform the world, in particular the Asian and African countries and the other one hundred signatories of the Geneva Convention, about China's flagrant violations. I thanked him for receiving me and got up to go. He was still shaken when I left.
I informed my Ministry about the latest developments and what action I had taken. When I told my colleagues in the embassy about my talk, they were rather pessimistic about the Chinese response. A few days later, our number two in the embassy, Damodaran, informed me that he had received a message from the Chinese Foreign Ministry that the Indian army officers were in Peking and that facilities would be given to me if I wanted to visit them. I called a meeting immediately of all our officers and placed the facts before them for their views. After some discussion, it was evident that they wanted me to visit them. I disagreed, I told them the officers were prisoners of the Chinese and were obviously kept under strict security.
Therefore they were in a Chinese prison, in law and-in fact. How could the Indian envoy visit a Chinese prison to see the Indian officers? My visit, at the Chinese behest, would legitimise the whole illegal and uncivilised Chinese policy in this regard. My colleagues pointed out that, in principle, I was right. But if the information leaked out that I had refused to visit the Chinese prisons or detention camps to see the Indian officers, there would be severe criticism in the Indian press and in Parliament. They were right. I decided on a compromise solution. Damodaran [No 2 in the embassy] would call back the Chinese official dealing with this matter and say that it would be inappropriate for the Indian envoy to visit the Indian officers. But if they were free and willing, they were invited to visit their own embassy and call on the envoy. If this proposal was not acceptable, we would fly out a representative of the Indian Red Cross to visit the Indian officers. This was communicated in due course. After a three days' wait, we received a message that the Indian officers - would visit the embassy.
The date and time were worked out on the clear understanding that no armed or unarmed guards would be permitted inside the embassy compound during the visit of the Indian officers. We were more than delighted that our gamble had won.

Captured Indian army officers visit the embassy

All the members of the embassy joined together and with great enthusiasm produced enormous quantities of excellent and varied food, delicacies from almost all parts of India. Rosha, one of our first secretaries, a dear friend and a fine officer, looked after the arrangements. The drinks included lassi (buttermilk), different fruit juices, tea, coffee and of course champagne, wines, scotch and cognac. The reception rooms were decorated with flowers and Indian flags. I called a meeting with all members of our embassy, both diplomatic and non-diplomatic. I explained to them that our officers had a very hard time as prisoners for almost six months, completely cut off from their families, friends and home, and even news from India. The Chinese had attempted to brainwash them. They inevitably had feelings of loss, defeat and humiliation, all for no fault of theirs. We then agreed on the following programme and arrangements:
  1. On their arrival, we would garland each officer;
  2. The national anthem would be played;
  3. I would say a few words of welcome, telling them how India was proud of them, of their courage and dedication, and that a great and warm welcome would await them in India;
  4. We would then take them inside and show them their places in six separate groups;
  5. Each group would have at least two members of the embassy as hosts, looking after them with warmth and affection, and helping them with food and drinks;
  6. It was expected that these groups would break up and regroup according to the inclinations of our guests;
  7. The military attaché Lt.-Colonel Khera and I would move freely from one group to another;
  8. While the embassy staff were playing host, they were not to show any curiosity and ask questions, but would reply if the officers asked them a question;
  9. Whatever was heard or whatever impressions were formed by the hosts would carefully be remembered, and reported to me later, after the officers’ departure.
The army officers duly arrived in buses, at the time fixed earlier. There were no Chinese guards either with them or outside in the street where the buses were parked. The officers cried and so did we, as we embraced them; the atmosphere was charged with emotion and affection. Some of the officers were in their military uniforms; they explained that this was because they were officially visiting their embassy. We took them inside to their seats, but very soon they started to regroup.
Food and drinks were offered. They were delighted to have such a variety of Indian delicacies after such a long time. They showed their appreciation by consuming large quantities of the food. It was wonderful to have them with us. The conversation in the different groups continued. We soon learned that because of the unrelenting Chinese propaganda which was based on distortion of statements, mainly made by the opposition parties in India, the officers were deeply worried about the future after their return to India. I kept assuring that they would be given the warmest welcome, a hero's welcome. Brigadier Dalvi however, was most worried; he was depressed, dejected and disappointed. He had a distinguished career behind him and he impressed me as an intelligent person. He had legitimate and serious complaints against the planning and implementation of India's defence policy. In his book Himalayan Blunder, he did not refer to his time in China or the visit to the Indian embassy in Peking. It is understandable, considering the unavoidable tensions and dissensions endured by these officers during the previous six months.
One of the most joyous moments of that reception was when Lt Colonel Khera called me to a corner and quietly pointed out an officer who had been declared dead in combat and whose wife had received from the President• of India a high decoration awarded posthumously, We had another round of champagne to celebrate.
The time came for them to leave. We did not know then where and when they would be released, nor did they.
After the army officers left, we sat down together to draft reports on our conversations and impressions. In the meantime, I also sent a top secret and most urgent telegram in code addressed to the Secretary-General of our Ministry, in which I described briefly the visit of the officers, their main worries and my assurances, and indicated that a detailed report on the information obtained and our impressions during three 'hours of conversation was being sent by special courier to New Deihi. 
I also suggested. that pending a serious study of my report, the government and if possible the opposition should desist from discussing matters relating to these twenty-seven officers;• that all of them should be given a hero's welcome but if later on, after careful and discreet observation, "bad eggs" were discovered, they should be removed without publicity because otherwise we would be strengthening China's pernicious propaganda about the Indian armed forces; and that we had as yet no information about when •or where the officers would be released. I also gave information about the officer who was presumed dead but was alive. By the time all the reports were coordinated, written or dictated and finally typed, it was well past midnight. Everyone was happy and we were teasing each other. My colleagues teased me too, saying that I was at my best after midnight because of my association with Chou En-lai. I will always remember with gratitude the warmth and affection of these colleagues during my time in China.

Return of Indian prisoners
In diplomatic circles in Peking, everyone soon came to know about the visit of our officers to our embassy. After a few days, Terence Garvey (later Sir Terence Garvey), my opposite number from the British Embassy came to see and tell me in confidence that, according to information he received from Hong Kong, the Chinese were planning to release our officers from the-border of China and Hong Kong. I told him that this could be to draw the attention of the international press; TV and radio representatives who would witness the release and handing over of the officers as a gesture of peace and magnanimity by the Chinese. I thanked him for this information and for being such a good friend. I reported to New Delhi immediately and requested them not to inform the press. I sought an interview with Marshal Chen Yi urgently. This time Chen Yi received me himself.' He asked me whether I was satisfied and happy to have seen and spent some time with our officers in our embassy. I had a feeling that both Chen Yi and Chou had received a report from their Vice-Minister about our "warm" discussions previously in this regard, Chen Yi said that the officers had, as they desired, seen a good part of China and her achievements, and that soon they would be going home. I referred• to my earlier discussions with his Vice-Minister and strongly affirmed our-view-that China had violated and continued to violate the Geneva Convention by parading them publicly.
Our officers were no more and no less than prisoners in Chinese hands. If China had any respect for international law and respect for humanitarian considerations, the officers should have been released months ago and reunited with their families.
Chen Yi got angry. He said he forthwith rejected my false and fabricated allegations against China. I should have been grateful and pleased that I had been I given the opportunity to see the officers. I said I was sorry to upset him but I had to tell him: the truth as warranted by the facts. I added that I had come to see him about another very serious aspect of the matter. I told him that according to my information, China was planning to release the officers on the border of China and Hong Kong. Chen Yi cut me short and asked me my source of information. I said I was- not prepared to disclose my source since it was not relevant. What was relevant was that if my information was wrong, I would withdraw it and offer my profound regrets, but if it were true, I would lodge a most serious protest in the strongest terms. Chen Yi was boiling in anger and I was enjoying it in calm satisfaction. He said that China was not answerable to anyone as to where and when the officers would be returned. I told him they were our officers, prisoners of war' who had to be returned to us, and therefore we would need advance information about the date, time and place of their release. If the Chinese authorities had decided to release them on the border of China and Hong Kong, a colonial territory, we would not need advance intimation of time and date as there would be no representative from India to take them over from the Chinese representative. Of course the Chinese representative could hand them over to the colonial representative of Hong Kong and might get an extra mileage of propaganda. Chen Yi was so upset he had to make an effort to calm himself before he could speak; but before he could do that I got up and thanked him for receiving me and said that I would leave him with my earnest request because the decision- was his in the matter. I returned to our embassy, informed New Delhi and briefed my colleagues. We were not very optimistic about the outcome from this last gambit.
At a National Day reception the next day, I saw Chou En-lai when he came to our table to clink glasses in a toast. I asked his permission to mention a matter of utmost urgency, He signalled me to continue. I told him very briefly that I had information that China was considering releasing our officers on the border of China and British colonial Hong-Kong. When China and India had two thousand miles of common frontier and a history of hundreds of years of friendship and cultural ties, why not release them anywhere on our common border or inside China? Why on colonial soil?
Despite the recent unfortunate relations between our two countries, both India and China had fought against colonial rule. So why now involve Hong Kong? Before I could continue, Chou looked at me and said in English, "I don't know anything about it and have nothing to do with it." He turned round and left for the next table. I felt at that moment that it was not much of a diplomatic success for me.
I reported my talk with Chou En-lai to New Delhi. Three days later, in the morning, Lt-Colonel Khera rushed into my room bubbling with excitement and radiant like a child, holding a piece of paper in his hand. He said, “We got it, we made it, it worked." I asked him if it was my transfer orders! He became serious. He said he had an urgent message from the Chinese Defence Ministry giving the date, time and place where the Indian officers would be handed over, and requesting the time, date and identification of the Indian aircraft which would fly the officers back to India. We were so relieved and happy. I informed New Delhi accordingly.
A few days later, I received a letter from General Chaudhuri, Chief of Staff of the armed forces of India. It said, "I join the armed forces in saluting you." His generous comment, obviously, was related to my recent telegrams and special report on our officers' visit to our embassy. I knew General Chaudhuri because for three generations our families had had connections: our grandfathers were friends, our fathers were colleagues and, much later, I had more occasions to see him.
The tensions continued on the border: The Colombo proposals had buried by the Chinese. The atmosphere was one of stalemate and uneasy calm. The protest notes continued to be fired by each side with regularity and rapidity. Having completed two years of my two-year assignment, I wrote MJ a personal letter, requesting a change to a calm, pleasant and easy capital. He wrote back that a change was not possible because the normal rules did not apply to me, and that he had obtained the approval of the Prime Minister in the matter. In fact, it was the Prime Minister's wish that I should continue for longer.

Lord Bertrand Russell's representatives in Peking
A few days later, in early July, a peculiar if not ominous event happened. -I was told by a friend in a foreign news agency that two men from Britain, representing Lord Bertrand Russell, were in Peking. They had brought a new offer from Mr. Nehru for Chou En-lai, Their names were Schoenman and Pottle. I was surprised that I had not even been informed by New Delhi about this. I consulted my British colleague, Terence Garvey, and he, knew nothing except that the two men were in Peking.
I sent a telegram to New Delhi asking for information and guidance. In the meantime, I was told in Peking that Mr. Nehru had made an offer to Chou En-lai that if China accepted twenty kilometers along the Western Sector of withdrawal as "no man's land", he would start negotiations with Chou En-lai without any other preconditions. I reported this to New Delhi and received a reply stating that
  1. Mr. Nehru had never made any such offer or proposals, and 
  2. The two men had come initially to discuss, on behalf of the Russell Peace Foundation, some matters with the Gandhi Peace Foundation. 
They were given an opportunity to meet Mr. Nehru when they discussed the possibility of starting a dialogue between China and India.
After a couple of days, the Chinese came out with a statement in the press concerning the discussions with the two representatives of Lord Russell, which made it clear that Mr. Nehru never made the proposals; the two Britishers had mentioned to Mr. Nehru that when in Peking they would make the proposals to the Chinese leaders, and Mr. Nehru raised no objection. What a fiasco, what a farce!
Later, when I inquired privately as to why Mr. Nehru had decided to see the two men and discuss matters of such vital national importance,-which ended in futile, unproductive and immature manoeuvring, I was told that Krishna Menon who was sometimes a visitor with Mr. Nehru, had recommended that Mr. Nehru should see them. No wonder, the whole episode reminded me of my earlier experiences during Krishna Menon's reign. He had been vanquished but had not yet vanished!