Tuesday, September 27, 2016

PoW in Tibet: a great soldier has left us

PoWs in Tibet: Lt Col Ratan Singh, Lt Col Balwant Singh Aluwallia, Brig John Dalvi,
Lt Col Maha Singh Rikh, Lt Col KK Tewari in front of the Potala (April 1963)
A great soldier has left us.
Maj Gen (retd) Krishna Kumar Tewari, PVSM, AVSM passed away yesterday at the age of 94.

Four years ago, I posted on this blog the story of a painful episode of his life: in October 1962, he was taken PoW in Tibet by the Chinese People's Liberation Army.
Gen Tewari, my father-in-law, has been an inspiration for this blog. 
I have added at the end some rare pictures of the area (courtesy: Michael Dalvi)

Gen Krishna Tewari's book, A SOLDIER’S VOYAGE OF SELF DISCOVERY can be downloaded from here.

Here is my 2012 post:

Continuing with the 1962 War with China: 50 Years Later, here is the story of  Gen Tewari. 
He was commissioned in the British Indian Army in 1942. 
In 1962, he was Commander Signals of the 4 Infantry Division based in Tezpur, Assam. 
On October 20, 1962, as he was visiting his forward troops, the Chinese attacked India. He was taken prisoner and sent to Tibet where he stayed for nearly 7 months. 

In his book, Himalayan Blunder Brig. John Dalvi wrote: “Col. Tewari was a gentle, God-fearing man in addition to being a first rate signaler. He had worked against tremendous odds through the operations and had overcome difficulties which would have taxed an Army Signals Regiment. He is due much credit for providing communications with obsolete equipment and the distances involved. Instead of praise they came in for criticism for not being able to work miracles with out-dated sets and distances which were beyond the range of divisional signals”.
Brig. Dalvi added: “There was a sad sequel to Tewari’s visit [on the Namkha chu]. …When the Gorkhas were attacked, Tewari found himself in the midst of an infantry battle. He was taken prisoner after the Chinese had over run the position. Who has ever heard of a Commander Signals being sent to an infantry battalion on the night before a massive attack, if there was any anticipation of a battle? He would have been at Divisional HQ attending to the Division’s communications.” 
Maj. Gen. K.K. Tewari's story: 
As a result of the Chinese threat on our northern borders, sometime in 1959 the Headquarters of Eastern Command at Lucknow was given the operational responsibility for the defense of Sikkim and NEFA. I was at that time, the Commander Signals of the 4th (Red Eagle) Division Infantry Division located at Ambala. We were immediately ordered to move to Tezpur in Assam.
This Division, trained and equipped for fighting in the plains, had suddenly to be deployed to guard these high mountain regions. While a normal division occupies an area frontage of 30 to 40 km in the plains, we were assigned a front spreading on more than 1800 kilometers of mountainous terrain!
But worse! Before the Division could take its operational responsibilities to defend the border with Tibet, orders for the execution of an Operation Amar 2 were received from Lt Gen BM Kaul, then Quarter Master General in the Army HQ. We were suddenly supposed to build temporary basha (house with straw) accommodations for the Division.
Besides the fact that my regiment had to provide communications for the Division in an entirely new and undeveloped area, we had now to become engineers and builders! You have to understand that a Signal Regiment is a functional unit in war or peace which is supposed to cater 24 hours a day to the various types of communications for its formation.
So, immediately after arrival in Tezpur, the Regiment got involved in the mad rush of building: the Prime Minister was to inaugurate the newly built bashas.
My first four months in command were a real nightmare. We would certainly have preferred to rough it out in tents and spend the time developing a reasonable communications set-up, getting our equipment properly checked and maintained and getting the men used to working with the available equipment in the mountains.
It was a personal relief when, on 14 April 1960, the inauguration was over. Only then did we turn any serious attention and effort towards our operational responsibilities. Even our equipment was antiquated and unsuitable for mountainous terrain and the excessive ranges.
At that time, there were hardly any roads existing in any of the five frontier divisions (FD) of Arunachal Pradesh. The road into Kameng FD, the most vulnerable, finished at the Foothills just beyond Misamari [4 days walk from Tawang]
We were faced with shortages of every kind. It was during these early days in NEFA that one of the COs of an infantry battalion sent a note written on a chapatti. When asked for an explanation, he gave a classic reply: "Regret unorthodox stationary but atta (wheat flour) is the only commodity available for fighting, for feeding and for futile correspondence."
Sometime in 1962, orders came from Army HQ for Operation Onkar (the famous “Forward Policy”), which directed all Assam Rifles posts to move forward, right up to the border. Of course, we were to back them. The idea was to establish the right of possession on our territory and to deter the Chinese from moving forward and occupying it, as was claimed by them. This order was certainly not supported by resources.
At that time, our Division had done almost three years non-family station service and some of the units were already on their way out on turnover. Suddenly all moves out of the area were cancelled and orders reversed.
Brig John Dalvi, the Commander Infantry Brigade who was in Tawang was ordered to move his HQ on a man/mule pack basis to Namkha Chu River area. An ad hoc Brigade HQ was created for Tawang sector overnight with hardly any Signal resources.
At that time, I was the only field officer of Lt Col or higher rank who had the longest tenure at not only the divisional HQ but among all the divisional troops. I should have been posted out after a two-year tenure in a non-family station. But I had also a sort of premonition, and I recorded it in my diary, that a severe test was in the offing for me to assess my faith in the Divine. I certainly had no idea that I would be taken a prisoner of war.
On September 8, 1962, the Dhola post manned by the Assam Rifles on the McMahon line, was encircled by the Chinese. A few days later, we had a meeting of the senior commanders from the Army Commander downwards at Tezpur. A relief party had been ordered to relieve the besieged Dhola post. This linkup was expected by nightfall on the 14th of September: Everyone was tensely waiting for the news of the link-up. Naturally all eyes were on me; as the communications `chief’, to bring them the message. But there was no news until late in the evening.
After this incident, a new Corps HQ was created to take charge of operations in NEFA. Lt Gen B.M. Kaul was appointed as the Corps Commander. He arrived from Army HQ in a special aircraft at Tezpur in the late afternoon of 4 October. At about 10 pm, Lt Gen Kaul announced in his typical flamboyant style that he had taken over command of all troops in NEFA. It was all so dramatic!
Here was a new situation, normally a Corps HQ in those days would be served by a corps signal regiment and another communication zone signal regiment. These had yet to be raised.
To compound these difficulties, Lt Gen Kaul had his own way to send messages.
Normally, a signal message is supposed to be written in an abbreviated telegraphic language. But all messages from the new Corps Commander ran into a couple of typed sheets in prose language and were all marked Top Secret and Flash. They were not addressed to the next higher HQ but directly to Army HQ. You should understand that it required to stop all other traffic to clear FLASH messages.
In September 1962, the higher authorities had obviously assumed that it would be easy to beat the Chinese. Otherwise, one cannot imagine how such an order to engage the enemy could have been issued by Delhi to the ill-equipped, ill-clothed, ill-prepared, fatigued, disillusioned troops.
Do you realize that when Dalvi’s brigade arrived near the Namkha Chu river after forced marches, he was ordered to throw the Chinese out of the Thagla ridge.
I have to tell you a telling incident: arriving near the river, after an exhausting journey, the brigade signal officer discovered that the generating engine to charge the wireless batteries was not here. A porter had dropped the charging engine in a deep khud on the way. It could not be retrieved. I believe it was dropped deliberately, because some of these civilian porters were in the pay of the Chinese.
But I was in for a still bigger shock when it was discovered that almost all the secondary batteries had arrived without any acid. I presume that what had happened is that the porters must have found it lighter without liquid and they probably decided to lighten their loads by emptying out the acid from all the batteries.
How to establish communications when the batteries are dead and could not be recharged? Despite of our good relations with them, the Air Force helicopter boys refused to carry acid. There was no question, of course, of dropping sulphuric acid by air. What was I to do? Fate was also pushing me to my inevitable destiny.
We filled up a jar of acid and marked prominently it: `Rum for Troops' and on October 18, I flew from Tezpur to Zimithang where I met with the GOC, Maj. Gen. Niranjan Prasad. Later, I went to Tsangdhar near the Namkha chu in a two-seater Bell helicopter with just the pilot and with the `Rum' jar strapped onto my lap. I landed there in the late afternoon and I marched down to Brig Dalvi's brigade HQ.
As I arrived there, I could quite clearly see the massing of the Chinese troops on the forward slopes of Thagla ridge.
When I discovered that every unit on the front had numerous signals problems, I decided to extend my stay by a day. It is where fate caught up with me!
On the 19th, Brig Dalvi informed over the telephone the GOC at Zimithang. He pleaded with his boss to let him move out of the `death trap', up to a tactically sound defensive position. Brig. Dalvi was told not to flap but to obey orders and stay put. He was extremely upset and passed the telephone to me saying, "You won't believe me, Sir, but talk to your `bloody' Commander Signals and he will tell you what all he can see with his naked eyes in front."
I spoke to the GOC equally strongly saying that one could see the Chinese moving down the Thagla Ridge like ants and also see at least half a dozen mortars which were not even camouflaged. I added that the Chinese could not be there for a picnic. I was also told to concentrate on my work and not to worry.
I stayed on with the 1/9 Gorkhas during the night of 19th October. Early on the 20th morning, I was woken up from a deep sleep by the noise of an intense bombardment. There was utter confusion in the pre-dawn darkness, shouting and yelling and running around in the midst of these exploding shells. I came out of the bunker and somehow found my way to the Signals bunker with two of my signalmen.
I looked out of the bunker. It was mystifying to see no visible movement outside. There was no one in sight. I peeped out of the bunker again. I saw a line of khaki clad soldiers with a prominent red star on their uniforms advancing towards our bunker. I had never seen a Chinese soldier till then at such close range.
I used to carry a 9 mm Browning automatic pistol in those days with one loaded clip.
The thought immediately was that one's dead body should not be found with an unfired pistol; it must be used, however hopeless our situation. So, when a couple of Chinese soldiers approached our bunker, I let go the full clip at them. And suddenly hell was let loose with the Chinese yelling and firing and a number of them converging onto our bunker. My two assistants were killed and I was alive, but a PoW.

On the road to Tibet
On October 20, 1962, the Indian prisoners were marched along a narrow track across the Namkha chu (river); later we went up to the Thagla pass (about 15,000 feet). On our way, we passed huge stocks of unfired mortar shells by the sides of our mortar positions, while on the northern side of the ridge, Chinese parties were still bringing up 120 mm mortars on a man pack basis.
After 3 days walk, we reached a place called Marmang in Tibet. From there we were taken in covered vehicles at night. During the journey, the Chinese tried to demoralize us; they would make fun of our army: "You do not even have cutting tools for felling trees. You use shovels to cut down trees." It was true; they had seen our troops preparing their defensive positions near the Namkha chu. There were other remarks such as, "You people have strange tactics. You sit right at the bottom of the valley to defend your territory instead of sitting on a high ground."
We arrived at the PoW camp located at Chongye [in Central Tibet] on 26 October and were accommodated in Lama houses which were all deserted although we could see some activity in the monastery above these houses on the side of a hill. 
We were to spend over five months in this camp, located south west of Tsetang, off the main highway to Lhasa. The prisoners were segregated into four companies: No. 1 Company was all officers, JCOs and NCOs. Majors and Lt Colonels were also separated from the JCOs and men. No. 2 and 3 Companies were jawans of various units. No. 4 Company, consisted only of Gorkhas and was given special privileges, for obvious political reasons. Each company had its own cookhouse where the Indian soldiers selected by the Chinese were made to cook.
In our house, we were four Lt Colonels (Maha Singh Rikh of the 2 Rajputs, Balwant Singh Ahluwalia of the Gorkhas, Rattan Singh of 5 Assam Rifles and myself), while John Dalvi was kept in confinement in Tsetang, a few km away from Chongye.
When we made representations to the Chinese that under the Geneva Convention on PoWs, officers had the right to be with their men, we were told quite bluntly that all these were nothing but imperialist conventions.
I shivered through the first couple of nights but then had a brain wave. I had noticed a pile of husk outside. We asked the Chinese if we could use it. Luckily, they accepted, and we could use the stuff as a mattress as well as a quilt.
For almost a month after our arrival, we were not let out of the room. Each of these lama houses had its own latrine in one corner with an open but very effective system of soil disposal. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived, the `disposal squad' of pigs had itself been disposed off by the Chinese.
There was an English speaking Chinese officer, Lt. Tong who was with us almost throughout our stay in the POW camp. He would come daily and talk to us individually or together. The theme of his talk with the POWs was monotonously the same: the Chinese wanted to be friends and it was only the reactionary government of Nehru, who was a lackey of American imperialism that wanted to break this friendship. "Then why did you attack us on 20 October?" They would try to explain that India attacked first and the Chinese attacked only in self-defense.
On 5 December, we were given for the first time some books and magazines to read. This consisted of Mao's Red Book, some literature on the India-China boundary question and a few Red Army journals. But whatever they were, they were most welcome for me at least. There was something to do at last to occupy the mind. I took notes from the Red Book. It is a pity that our government did not read some of the Mao’s thoughts. I noted them down at that time: "Fight no battle unprepared, fight no battle you are not sure of winning" or "The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy halts, we harass, the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue."
Towards the end of December 1962, the Red Cross sent us one parcel each with two packets in it. One packet had warm clothes, a German battle dress, a pair of long johns, warm vest, muffler, cap, jersey, warm shirt, boots and a towel. The second packet contained foodstuff including a bar of Sathe chocolate, tins of milk, jam, butter, fish, packets of sugar, atta (wheat flour), dal (pulses), dried peas, salt, tea, biscuits, condiments, cigarettes and vitamin pills. It certainly was a very well thought-out list of items.
Perhaps to demoralize us, the Chinese would often play Indian music on the public address system in the camp. One of the songs which was played repeatedly was Lata Mangeshkar's "Aa Ja Re-Main to kab se Khari Is par...." [Come, I have been waiting for so long] This would make us feel homesick.
With my habit of writing a diary, I kept notes as a POW also. In the first week or so, the only available paper to write on, were some sheets of toilet paper in my para jacket pocket. The question was how to keep these papers from being discovered by the Chinese. What I had done was to open the stitching on the ‘belt’ part of the trousers and then slide the folded papers inside. This was how my diary notes on toilet paper could be brought out to India.
One other episode of our stay in the camp is worth recording. One day, towards the end of our stay, at our request we were taken to see the palace and the monastery. It was a shock to see the palace with all the beautiful Buddha statues of all sizes and fabulous scrolls (tankhas) lying broken, defiled and torn and trampled on the ground.
On 25 December, we, the seven field officers were taken in one of the captured Indian Nissan trucks to spend the Christmas morning with Brig. John Dalvi at Tsetang. He was kept all alone and was comfortably accommodated. We had breakfast and lunch with him and were shown a movie. Dalvi had suffered a great deal mentally — being all by himself. He was now better.
The first letters we received from home came only in the third week of February 1963. Some of us, including myself, received parcels of sweets too.
On March 26, we were informed that we would soon be released and taken for a conducted tour of the mainland China. Suddenly we became VIPs, though still held as prisoners. We were given various comforts and given new clothes and shoes.
Before leaving the PoW camp, we asked the Chinese to take us to the graves of our soldiers who had died in our camp. There were seven of them including Subedar Joginder Singh, who had been awarded a PVC. We were told by the Chinese that he had refused to have his toes, which were affected by frost-bite, amputated. According to the Chinese, he had told them that his chances of promotion to Subedar Major would be adversely effected if his toes were amputated. We were told that he died of gangrene.
On 28 March, we left the camp, ironically in an Indian captured vehicle and were driven to Tsetang to pick up Brig John Dalvi and three other Lt. Colonels and five Majors. On 29th March, we were all driven in a bus to Lhasa. On 5 April, we were flown in two IL 14 aircrafts to Xining [Qinghai Province]. After a long tour of China, during which we were shown China’s ‘progress’ after the Communist revolution, we were informed on 27 April that we shall be handed over to India at Kunming on 4 May.
At the handing over ceremony, we witnessed a last surprise performance by the Chinese. Throughout our tour of China, an immaculately dressed Chinese had accompanied us. He was not dressed in cotton padded clothes like all the others. He commanded a lot of respect from the other Chinese. We used to refer to him as the ‘General’. He had a chap trailing around behind him always, helping him with things, offering a chair, a cup of tea, etc. We used to refer to that fellow as the orderly to the General. At the handing over ceremony, however, the person who sat down and signed on behalf of China was the ‘orderly’ and the one who stood behind to pass him the pen to sign was the ‘general’! Such are the Chinese ways!
On May 5, we took off at 9.10 a.m. from Kunming and were scheduled to land at Calcutta at 1.20 p.m. Before reaching Calcutta, the pilot announced that there was some problem with the under carriage not opening and that we might have to crash land, finally we landed ultimately at 2.30 p.m. at Dum Dum with all the fire tenders lined up. It would have been such an irony of fate if we had been killed in a crash landing in India!
In my opinion, the Chinese had prepared their attack for at least 2 or 3 years. I can give you few examples: one day a Chinese woman came and recited some of Bahadur Shah Zafar's poems, much to our delight. The Chinese had certainly prepared for this war most diligently because they had interpreters for every Indian language right in the front line. This Urdu-speaking woman must have lived in Lucknow for a long time. Same thing for one of our guards, though he had not said a single word for 5 months (we used to call him Poker Face), we discovered that he could speak perfect Punjabi when he left us in Kunming.
Their constant brainwashing was to make us accept that we had attacked them.

Bunker near Namkha chu

Bunker Bunker near Namkha chu
Bunker near Namkha chu
Namjiang chu with Thagla ridge in the background

Namkha chu (river). Thagla ridge was held by the Chinese.
Tsangdhar dropping zone
Radio set found on the battle field  near the Namkha chu

Thursday, September 22, 2016

On China, when shall we learn the lessons?

My article On China, when shall we learn the lessons? appeared in the Edit Page of The Pioneer

Here is the link ...

In dealing with Beijing, New Delhi has since the 1950s been persuaded by the myth of Chinese warmth for India and Indian interests. The much-heralded Panchsheel was a disaster that few are willing to accept

Several years ago, during a conference in an Indian university, the chief guest, a senior Indian diplomat who had served in the UN, suddenly cited the Panchsheel Agreement between India and China: “It was the best thing that Nehru did as Prime Minister”, he said. Having worked on the subject, I was flabbergasted. How could an intelligent person who has seen the files and is supposed to understand geopolitics, say this? The agreement was independent India's worst sell-out.
India gave away its assets and rights in Tibet (military escorts, trade agencies, trade mats, dak bungalows, telegraph lines, Indian enclave, etc) while getting nothing in return. But in the mind of many romantic thinkers, the ‘Agreement on Trade and Intercourse between Tibet Region of China and India’, signed April 29, 1954, in Beijing, has remained glamorous for its preamble, containing the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence.
For TN Kaul, who was one of the Indian negotiators, India was just getting rid of her colonial past: “But, more important was the fact that they were vestiges of imperialist domination and violated the principle of equality, Jawaharlal Nehru’s policy was not a replica of British policy.” At that time, most Indian diplomats, having to imitate the voice of their master, sang the same tune, though Tibet, an independent nation for nearly 2,000 years, lost its freedom in the deal. Lhasa had not even been consulted.
For the Indian Prime Minister, it represented “an attempt, the first in post-World War II history, to put bilateral relations between the two big countries of Asia on a principled basis.” When Nehru presented the agreement in Parliament, he was in his revolutionary mood; he proclaimed: “Now we must realise that this revolution that came to China is the biggest thing that has taken place in the world at present, whether you like it or not.”
In the same speech, he  summed-up the Panchsheel Agreement thus: “No one should invade the other, no one should fight the other... this is the basic principle which we have put in our treaty.” Forgetting that China had just invaded Tibet, Nehru concluded, “In my opinion, we have done no better thing than this since we became independent… I think it is right for our country, for Asia and for the world.”
That a diplomat could repeat the same thing 50 years later, greatly surprised me; he had obviously failed to remember that eight years after the signature, Nehru was ‘betrayed’ by Zhou Enlai, when Communist China attacked India.
But was he really betrayed? I recently came across a fascinating document which shows that some diplomats were fully aware of China’s game. On March 18, 1954, five weeks before the signature, N Raghavan, the Indian Ambassador to China (who was negotiating the agreement in Beijing), sent a personal note to the Prime Minister: “It was drawn up on the basis of my own observations and experience as also of my study of Chinese relations with us since the advent of New China. I have tried to take as objective a view as possible”, he wrote.
The Ambassador told the Prime Minister, “The Chinese, unlike our warm-hearted people, are not emotional by nature, and while the Indian people often display an emotional approach towards China, the Chinese themselves have none such towards India… Any friendship [in China] is evaluated from the standpoint of its usefulness to China.”
Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai was entirely an Indian myth.
The Ambassador’s note shows that Nehru had been warned several years before the situation deteriorated on the border, culminating with a short war in October 1962.
Raghavan remarks: “After a careful examination and objective analysis of the various trends, expressed and implied I came to certain conclusions.” He saw two main periods during his tenure.
The first one was between November 1952 and December 1953, “the period of India’s active participation in the settlement of the Korean question, was not only an extremely trying time in Sino-Indian relations, but was, to some extent, a period of revelations”.
The Ambassador wrote to the Prime Minister that China remained “correct and friendly, without being warm and cordial”, but the communists “prepare the way for the cultivation of warm and cordial relations with the ‘People of India’, as distinct from the Government of India”.
Beijing waited the “for the emergence of a ‘People’s Government’ and to do what they can to advance and accelerate such emergence”, but until then, they “play down India and belittle the achievements of her present Government including its contribution to world peace and progress”, Raghavan noted.
The Chinese aim was to project India “as a capitalist country, suffering from all the economic and political ills of capitalism, colonialism and feudalism; …awaiting ultimate liberation by her people”.
Beijing made sure that “India does not increase her stature in the international fields so that China’s ultimate role as the leading Asian Power will in no manner be affected or threatened”. This sounds familiar to this day, ie thwarting India’s bid to join the NSG or have a seat in the Security Council.
Raghavan notes that China never gave credit to the Indian Government for its role in the Korean conflict because, “to the Chinese mind, no credit was due”. The Ambassador added: “It was thought that the Indian Government could not have pursued any policy other than one of utmost assistance to China as the Indian people would not have allowed anything else to be done.” During a Party’s secret session in Beijing in February 1953, it was stated: “Indian Government, as it is today, is a capitalist Government and to that extent, not reliable; India, as she is today, cannot be considered a friend, but is useful, as she is more or less certain to remain neutral in any conflict.”
Raghavan admitted, “It is true that for centuries China remained self-centered. No other country seemed to exist for China.” He added: “At times, one is led to wonder whether there exists a lurking feeling in some Chinese circles of rivalry — even of jealousy — a fear that India may be a threat to Chinese leadership of Asia.”
Later, when Beijing did not need Delhi anymore for the Korean conflict, India was completely ignored; Raghavan's conclusion was: “Perhaps it is felt that any publicity concerning Indian achievements would not be helpful to the new regime in China in its propaganda to establish Chinese superiority in all fields.”
Nehru did not listen to the warning. Has the situation changed today? Today, South Block is more busy tweeting than looking into the past. It is a real pity. What about the mindset in Beijing? Has that changed since 1954?
If it has, Beijing should demonstrate it by siding with India in the latter’s fight against terrorism.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The End of the Saga: from Toofanis to Rafale

According to PTI, Jean Yves Le Drian, French Defence Minister will land in Delhi on September 22.
He will be accompanied by the CEOs of Dassault Aviation, Thales and MBDA (and Safran?) to seal the 7.87 billion Euros deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets.
PTI says: “Defence sources said if all goes well, the Inter Governmental Agreement (IGA) will be signed on September 23.”
Apparently the cost, offsets and service details have been finalised and work is progressing on the IGA. A ‘working team’ from France is in Delhi "with their own translators are going through the contract, running into several thousand pages, with their Indian counterparts."
It is the end of a long saga which started in 2001. (Read my Rafale Saga on this blog).
On this occasion on the conclusion of The Deal, I published below a cable sent by H.S. Malik, the Indian Ambassador to France on October 26, 1953.
The cable is addressed to the Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru and relates to the sales of Ouragans (Toofanis in India) aircrafts to India.
The planes were sold to India …by Dassault.

One should mention that at the time, the relations were then very tense between France and India over the French Settlements of Pondicherry, Yanaon, Mahe and Karikal.

Incidentally, Paris issued yesterday a statement on the terrorist attack in Uri: "France most firmly condemns the terrible terrorist attack perpetrated on 18 September against an Indian army camp in the region of Kashmir. It conveys its condolences to the families of the 17 Indian soldiers killed in this attack.
France remains at India’s side in the combat against terrorism. It calls on every State to fight effectively against terrorist groups operating on their territory or from their territory against other countries."

Here is Ambassador Malik’s message.

My dear Panditji,
All of us in the Embassy who have been working on the implantation of the contract with the Defence Ministry here for the supply of Ouragan aircraft were greatly relieved and delighted when we got the news that our four pilots with the four Ouragans had reached Palam safely. This flight from France to India has involved a great deal of organizational work for which much credit is due to the team of the Indian Air Force Officers working here under Wing Commander Akut.
In this connection, I venture to being to your notice the wonderful cooperation that we have received both from the French officers of the Ministry of Defence, from the Cabinet Minister downwards, and from the French industry. We signed the contract only last June. Already four planes have reached India; another 35 are being sent on October the 30th on the aircraft carrier DIXMUDE, and the remainder, 32 aircraft, will be dispatched in January 1954. I think you will agree that this is indeed prompt execution of the agreement as embodied in the contract between us and the French. This agreement is being carried out both in the spirit and in the letter and there has been no instance of any attempt to delay or obstruct. Our pilots who came here to learn to fly this type of aircraft, which was new to them, won the admiration and respect of the French Air Force and, generally speaking, the other members of the Indian Air Force who have come to France for the requisite training to enable them to carry out the servicing of this aircraft in India have, in spite of the language handicap, applied themselves with energy and devotion to their task and have made friends and won the respect of the people among whom they have lived. I am personally very proud and full of admiration for the way in which Wing Commander Akut and his team of technical officers have done their job here and of the way in which our pilots and the other Indian Air Force personnel have done their job in France.
I have been thinking for some time whether it would not be possible to use the opportunity provided us by this cooperation and collaboration by the French to relive somewhat the existing unfortunate state of relations between India and France on account of the position which we naturally have had to take up vis-à-vis the stupidity and lack of imagination of the French over the question of the French Settlements in India as also over the question of the French North African Possessions. Yesterday, when I was lunching with the President at Rambouillet, an idea came to me after my conversation with Mme Paul Auriol, daughter-in-law of the President, who as you probably know is a most distinguished and famous Aviatrix, being one of the two women who have crossed the sound-barrier. Mme Paul was present at the luncheon and during our conversation which was over the subject of the supply by France, of the Ouragon aircraft to India, she said laughingly: “Wouldn’t be nice if we could all be at Bombay to be present on the arrival of the DIXMUDE with the 35 French Aircraft purchased by India, on board?” Incidentally, the President was most friendly at luncheon and, among other things, drank a toast to India coupling your name with it, and hoping that France and India would go ahead working together in the cause of peace.
Mme Paul Auriol’s remark revived in my mind what had already been simmering there on the subject of some gesture by us to show the French how much we appreciate their cooperation in this matter. I feel that it would be a nice gesture on our part if we could fly out by Air India and back, the French Air Minister and his wife, the principal officer of the Air Ministry with whom we have been dealing (Commdt. Serralta), the Head of OFFEMA who have been the intermediaries between us and the Defence Ministry, and the Head of the firm Marcel Dassault who assemble the aircraft. I would also include in the party, Mme Paul Auriol because of her extremely distinguished flying record which is the pride of France. Her inclusion would have a very good effect on French public opinion.
From our side, there would be myself and my wife (since the Air Minister's wife would be going, I think it would be proper if my wife also was in the party), our Military Attache Brig. Chopra who has been in general charge of the execution of the contract, and Wing Commander Akut who has been personally responsible for most of the work. My idea would be that the entire party should reach Bombay in time to be present when the DIXMUDE reaches Bombay (say, about the 20th November). They could then participate in any official ceremony that might be arranged for this occasion. They would then be flown to Delhi where the French members of the party would be the guests of the Government of India for 4 or 5 days during the course of which some sight-seeing and some social functions might be arranged for them. I believe that a gesture of this kind would help a lot in taking away some of the bitter taste that is at present attached to French Indian relations.
I realise that this proposal involves a good deal of expenditure on our part, but I believe it would be money well spent. In this connection it would perhaps be pertinent for me to tell you of an incident in connection with this contract which I believe is significant and representative of the spirit in which the French are implementing the contract. Although the contract did not provide for it, in the informal talks the subordinate French representatives had told our people that they would provide an aircraft carrier for the transport of these planes to India. Subsequently, it transpired that this particular aircraft carrier was not available as it had gone to sea for certain manoeuvres. The French then told our people that the aircraft would have to be shipped to India by ordinary merchant ships. Since under the contract we have to bear the expenses on the transport of the planes to India, this would have involved not only considerable delay but very heavy Charges both on account of freight and on account of dismantling, packing etc., of the aircraft before shipment. When I heard all this, I immediately got into touch with M. Pleven, the Defence Minister, and told him of this development and asked for his intercession. He assured me straightaway that he would look into the matter personally and see to it that we got satisfaction. Thereafter, another aircraft carrier was placed at our disposal as a result of the personal intercession of the Defence Minister himself. This has saved us not only great inconvenience and delay but something like Rs 5,50,000/-. The point is of course that the French were not bound to do this under the terms of the contract and did it as a gesture of goodwill towards us. I feel strongly that it would be well worthwhile to reciprocate this goodwill by the plan that I have ventured to put forward to you in this letter.
I have of course not mentioned this idea to any of the French officials, and will do so only if you approve. I have no doubt that a visit to India by the above party as the guests of the Government of India would be greatly welcomed by the French.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Panchesheel: it is right for our country, for Asia and for the world or Born in Sin?

The ‘Agreement on Trade and Intercourse between Tibet Region of China and India’ was signed April 29, 1954 in Beijing.
It has remained (in)famous for its preamble, containing the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence; the Agreement became known as the Panchsheel Treaty (from Pali, panch: five, sheel: virtues)
Soon after the signature one could hear the refrain: “The Government of India found its old advantages in Tibet (military escorts, trade agencies, trade mats, dak bungalows, telegraph lines, etc..) of little use and in any case the Chinese exercised full control in Tibet.”
For P.N. Kaul, who was one of the Indian negotiators, India was just getting rid of her colonial past: “But, more important was the fact that they were vestiges of imperialist domination and violated the principle of equality, Nehru's policy was not a replica of British policy and he did not want any irritants of no practical value.”
Tibet had been an independent nation for nearly 2000 years; in one stroke India was given away the Land of Snows’ independence under the pretext that India’s presence in Tibet was an imperialist remnant.
However for Nehru, it represented for “an attempt, the first in post-World War II history, to put bilateral relations between the two big countries of Asia on a principled basis. Its success would depend on the intentions and motives, the national aspirations and interests, the leadership and implementing machinery on each side.”
When the Prime Minister presented the ‘Agreement’ in the Parliament he was in his revolutionary mood; he proclaimed: “Now we must realise that this revolution that came to China is the biggest thing that has taken place in the world at present, whether you like it or not.”
In the same speech Nehru spoke described the content of the Agreement Panchsheel: “Live and let live, no one should invade the other, no one should fight the other... this is the basic principle which we have put in our treaty.”
He had forgotten that China had invaded Tibet three years earlier.
He later summed up the Parliamentary debate by saying: “in my opinion, we have done no better thing than this since we became independent. I have no doubt about this... I think it is right for our country, for Asia and for the world.”
A few years later, he felt ‘betrayed’ by Zhou Enlai and Communist China.
But was he really betrayed?
I recently came across an interesting document which shows that Nehru had been warned about China, even before signing the Agreement.
On March 18, 1954, five weeks before the signature, N. Raghavan, the Indian Ambassador to China, wrote a personal note to the Prime Minister: “It was drawn up on the basis of my own observations and experience as also of my study of Chinese relations with us since the advent of New China. I have tried to take as objective a view as possible.”
The Ambassador tells the Prime Minister: “The Chinese unlike our warm-hearted people, are not emotional by nature, and while the Indian people often display an emotional approach towards China, the Chinese themselves have none such towards India. …Any friendship [in China] is evaluated from the standpoint of its usefulness to China.”
Raghavan explains: “For security reasons, I have not dealt with this aspect in my Annual Report for 1953.”
I am posting here the Ambassador’s ‘Top Secret’ Note to the Prime Minister.
It is worth reading this note as it shows that Nehru had been warned several years before the situation on the border became tense, which eventually ended up in a short War in October 1962.
The Panchsheel Agreement had lapsed 6 months earlier.
by N. Raghavan
What is the attitude of the Government of New China towards India? This is a vital question, the answer to which it is the duty of India's accredited representative at Peking to find out if possible. After a careful examination and objective analysis of the various trends, express and implied, observed for about 18 months, one cannot but help coming to certain conclusions. That there is a definite policy towards India is certain. Whether it is a settled one or subject to changes, it is yet difficult to say. The period, November 1952 to December 1953, the period of India's active participation in the settlement of the Korean question, was not only an extremely trying time in Sino-Indian relations, but was, to some extent, a period of revelations. China's attitude towards India was occasionally discernible without the usual trimmings or diplomatic window-dressings. However, in the examination of Chinese policy as such towards India and her Government, one has to discount statements and expressions of opinion made by Chinese Government spokesman and official journals in the heat of controversy due to dissatisfaction.
As far as observations go, the answer to the question as to what really is the attitude of the Chinese Government towards India is briefly as follows:
  1. To remain correct and friendly, without being warm and cordial, in their relations with the Government of India.
  2. To prepare the way for the cultivation of warm and cordial relations with the 'People of India', as distinct from the Government of India. (The publicity line is such as to lead one to think that the Chinese Government enjoy the confidence and admiration of the Indian people to a greater extent than even the Indian Government!)
  3. To wait for the emergence (in which the Chinese are Led to believe) of a "People's Government" of India and to do what they can to advance and accelerate such emergence.
  4. Until then, to 'play down' India and belittle the achievements of her present Government (including their contribution to world peace and progress) or at least to keep the Chinese nation in ignorance of them.
  5. To the extent possible, without offending India or her Embassy at Peking, to project India as a capitalist country, suffering from all the economic and political ills of capitalism, colonialism and feudalism; and as such, still not free, but awaiting ultimate liberation by her people (meaning the Communist Party).
  6. To make use of India and her independent role in international affairs, but to see as far as possible that by doing so, India does not increase her stature in the international fields so that China's ultimate role as the leading Asian Power will in no manner be affected or threatened.
New India is considered an anachronism, a half-way house at best, in the transition from capitalism and semi-colonialism to Communism and "Popular Democracy".
As a corollary to the Chinese attitude it was observed that China gave publicly no credit to the Indian Government for its impartial assistance in the solution of the Korean problem because, to the Chinese mind, no credit was due. It was thought that the Indian Government could not have pursued any policy other than one of utmost assistance to China as the Indian people would not have allowed anything else to be done. While the Chinese let no occasion pass without singing peans of praise of the Soviets and their contribution to Peace, and while no opportunity was missed to acknowledge the deep gratitude of the Chinese people and Government to the fraternal Soviet people and Government, not a line was publicly uttered or published in praise of India and no word of acknowledgement or thanks has so far appeared in the Chinese Press for the great and universally acclaimed contributions of India and her Government t o a Korean Armistice. India had more than her fair share of blame, criticism and condemnation in the Press and at Party meetings whenever she did not adopt the Chinese line, but little or no approbation or appreciation even when India did something palatable to the Chinese.
The only public reference to India's great role in the Korean Armistice negotiations was a reference by Prime Minister Chou En-lai at a reception to a team of visiting Indian Artists in July, 1953, when he acknowledged with thanks the assistance given by the Indian Ambassador at Peking; but even this was blacked out from the Press Reports of the speech. Since the friendly policy of the Indian Government is not placed to its credit but is ascribed to public pressure which it cannot possibly withstand, it is not surprising that the Chinese Government did not - as even President Eisenhower did - send any formal letter of appreciation on the work of the Indian Custodian Force or of the Indian Chairman of the NNRC, to the Government of India.

Even during the days of 'the illegal Indian Resolution' as well as the 'illegal handing over of the Prisoners to the detaining sides' the Chinese line was to show that the objectionable steps taken by India were against Indian opinion.
The view of the Chinese Government that while the Government of India endeavours to remain neutral, it is not a free Government but is subjected to direct influences of Britain, and indirectly of U.S., is also occasionally visible. It was significant that according to a report that reached the Embassy of a speech delivered by one of the leading Chinese statesmen at a Secret Session of the Government Council in February 1953, the Chinese view was, more or less, as follows:-
Indian Government, as it is today, is a capitalist Government and to that extent, not reliable; India, as she is today, cannot be considered a friend, but is useful, as she is more or less certain to remain neutral in any conflict. As such, friendly relations are to be carefully maintained.
If China has a policy or programme of immediate or long-term friendship with India, one would naturally expect to see some signs of it. At least the people of the country would have been prepared. The tendrils of the gigantic Publicity Octopus of the Government of China would have tried to reach all parts of the country in a programme of kindling friendly interest in India and her people.
It is true that for centuries China remained self-centered. No other country seemed to exist for China. The same tradition might, to some extent, be persisting even today. But people are taught about Soviet Russia and Sino-Soviet relations with meticulous finesse, day in and day out.
For all the protestations of Asian patriotism by Chinese leaders in private conversations, there is absolutely nothing done to stimulate the interest of the Chinese people in other countries of Asia or to educate them on China's affinity, or at least friendliness towards them. India is no exception. At best, she might be occupying a special position in Chinese policy - neither friend, nor foe.
At times, one is led to wonder whether there exists a lurking feeling in some Chinese circles or rivalry - even of jealousy - a fear that India may be a threat to Chinese leadership of Asia, a role which China aspires one day to play. It is curious to observe that even references to ancient connections between India and China or to India's past contributions to Chinese culture are studiously avoided (except in unreported speeches at banquets to visiting Indian delegations).
Not only nothing is done to popularise India, but anything that might enhance her prestige is not very happily received. The anniversary of India's Republic Day usually passes unnoticed. No news paper or other journal ever mentions names like Gandhi or Tagore.
No Indian happening appears to be of the slightest interest, unless it be a C.P.I. Congress or election victory, a Lucknow students strike or a 'Peace' Committee Resolution. India, apart from pro-Chinese extracts from Indian newspapers and especially from the Communist journals, remains practically blacked out in the Press of this country.
None of the thousands of bookshops in China sells any book on India - whether cultural, political or economic. While delegations of a particular colour are invited from India, invitations by the Government of India or public bodies for Conferences held in India are not welcomed or accepted. Uninvited Indian tourists do not appear to be welcome. Exchanges of students and scholars between the two countries are discouraged. Indian film publicity (Indian Information Service documentaries) has never been in demand as in other friendly countries.
Though there was little or no adverse publicity against India for the last year or so, except in so far as India had failed to toe the Chinese line concerning Korea, no information was vouchsafed to the public concerning the great strides that the Indian people under the leadership and guidance of their Government had been making in various fields. Perhaps it is felt that any publicity concerning Indian achievements would not be helpful to the new regime in China in its propaganda to establish Chinese superiority in all fields.
The Chinese people should be made to feel superior. The only country that can do better than China is the Soviet Union. The studied silence on major happenings in India and visible indifference to India's domestic and international achievements were, therefore, understandable.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Don’t give India a chance to amuse themselves by our failure

Panchen Lama, Dalai Lama, Chen Yi, Zhou Enlai, Nehru, Indira Gandhi in 1956
The Tibetan factor impeded longer military operations against India in the fall of 1962. With discontent brewing on the Roof of the World, the supply lines to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), had been greatly weakened.
This is an important to understand the ‘short’ Sino-Indian border war.
Tibet's instabilty appears clearly in the 70,000-character petition sent by the Panchen Lama to Zhou Enlai in May 1962.The Tibetan Lama who had been made Chairman of the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region when the Dalai Lama left for India in 1959, dared (‘with anger’) to criticize the policies of the Party in Tibet.
The Chinese Premier requested Xi Zhongxun, Vice-Premier and father of Xi Jinping, Li Weihan, the minister of the United Front Work Department dealing with ‘Minorities’, General Zhang Jingwu, the Representative of the Central Committee in Tibet and General Zhang Guohua, the Secretary of the CPC Tibet Committee and main commander during the 1962 war, to read and study the Panchen Lama's petition.
Interestingly, when the Panchen Lama died in 1989, Xi Zhongxun wrote in The People’s Daily that the Tibet experts found “most of the comments and suggestions [of the Panchen Lama were] good; they could be implemented, but some had gone too far.”
Indeed, he had gone 'too far' for the Communist leadership; Mao called it a 'Poisonous Arrow". 
The Panchen Lama listed several problems such the ‘suppression of the Rebellion’ in 1959.
Each time, after agreeing with the official line, he criticized it:
The rebellion in Tibet was counter-revolutionary in nature, being against the Party, the motherland, the people, democracy and socialism. Its crimes were very grave. Thus, it was entirely correct, essential, necessary and appropriate for the Party to adopt the policy of suppressing the rebellion. However, when these points were implemented…
And then he mentioned the grievances of the Tibetan population.
Then he took on the ‘Democratic Reform’, the ‘Production in Agriculture and Animal Herding’, ‘Livelihood of the People’, the United Front policy for the ‘nationalities’, ‘Democratic Centralism’, the Dictatorship of the Party and finally the most important for him, the freedom of religion. Each time, he used the same pattern.
The Panchen Lama paid a heavy price for having dared to write what everyone knew. He eventually spent the years from 1964 to 1978 in solitary confinement and rehabilitation camps.
Very few analysts have pointed out that a longer war would have been very difficult to sustain in the atmosphere of 'rebellion' prevalent on the Roof of the World at that time. Though openly siding with the 'reformists' camp led by Lui Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping, the Panchen Lama was also warning the Communist leadership of the resentment of the so-called nationalities.
During his speech at Beidaihe in August 1962, Mao, who for months had been in the wilderness, staged a comeback using the case of the Panchen Lama.
Dr Li Zhisui, Mao’s physician, recounts:
Then [Mao] turned his opprobrium against the Panchen Lama of Tibet, denouncing him as ‘an enemy of our class’. [After the 1959] crackdown, the Panchen Lama, ordinarily subservient to Beijing, was now arguing that Beijing's so-called ‘democratic reforms’ had moved too far to the left. He hoped that the ultra-leftist trend in Tibet could be corrected.
Some new historical documents regarding the 70,000 characters letter have now been translated in English, by two independent researchers, Jianglin Li and Matthew Akester.
The transcripts make fascinating reading.
In the Summary of a Meeting between Comrade Xi Zhongxun, Comrade Li Weihan and Panchen held on June 21, 1962 in The Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Nehru and India are several times cited.

I am posting here some extracts of the longish discussions.
The entire transcript is available on the bog of Jianglin Li and Matthew Akester.

Xi [Zhongxun, Xi Jinping’s father] intervenes: “I had a meeting with the Master [the Panchen Lama] once, and the Master expressed his support for the [Tibet] Work Committee’s leadership [the so-called Communist reforms]. This is very good. This can be seen in the report too. It is possible that you have a few opinions about each other, this is quite natural. We held several meetings here just for you to vent your anger and figure out ways to solve problems. This is a beginning. You should do the same after returning [to Tibet]. If you are angry, let it out. If you have disagreement, speak out. Problems should be solved through consultation and discussion.”
In 1964, the Panchen Lama’s ‘anger’ will take him for 14 years to jail.
Later, the issue of the Dalai Lama’s flight and India came again in the discussion. Xi explains:
Comrades in Tibet should be clear of the fact that through a big struggle, the reactionary Dalai clique had split off. Through suppressing rebellion and implementing reform, we have laid an initial foundation for our work in Tibet, which is the foundation for development and prosperity within the big family of motherland.
It has to be noted that according to Chinese figures 87,000 died in the first week of the ‘suppression’. For Communist China, it was the ‘base’ of the ‘Liberation’.
Xi admits:
There might be tens and thousands of shortcomings and mistakes, however, as long as we have this foundation, all shortcomings and mistakes can be corrected. Our work during the past few years should be cherished. Achievements cannot be denied, our power should be truly strengthened. Dalai is watching us in India right now. He is dreaming that all we have implemented in Tibet will fall apart, and Banchan [Panchen] will meet his downfall. If we don't want his dreams to come true, we must do our work diligently and prudently. First of all, we must strengthen our unity, and unite every person that can be united. If this work is not done well, Dalai will laugh at us, and Nehru will laugh at us too. Don’t give them a chance to amuse themselves by our failure.
This shows that Xi Jinping’s father was not really a ‘moderate’ and those who believe the Xi Jinping will follow his footsteps and ‘open up’ China were wrong.
Xi again cites Nehru:
This requires that we do our work better under the leadership of the [Tibet] Work Committee [implementing the ‘reforms’], and construct our motherland better. Nehru is laughing now, but don’t let him have the last laugh. Nehru launched an anti-communist satellite, we will launch a revolutionary satellite. We will compete with him on this point.
It is interesting to see that even so-called moderate leaders like Xi, put squarely the blame on Nehru and his government for the Dalai Lama’s flight to India. It will result in the ‘punishment’ three years later, on the slopes of the Thagla ridge and in Ladakh.

At another point came up during the three-day discussions, Xi Zhongxun mentions other implications of the Panchen Lama’s letter:
…Specific problems still need to be solved through consultation and discussion. In Tibet, the workload is very heavy, internal matters are quite difficult, foreign affairs are arduous too. Tibet is the front line of national defence, and there is struggle against enemies as well. Rebels are meddling in Nepal, they took over a county government there and sent spies and rebels to make trouble in Nepal,” and Xi adds: “This is the joint work of Nehru and Dalai. If they messed up Nepal, how can they not want to mess up Tibet? What’s their purpose? They just want to overthrow the current leadership in Tibet and restore the old order. This is not only a current struggle, it is also a long term and arduous one. We must unite ourselves closely; otherwise we won’t be able to handle this situation. Things are difficult in Tibet, but solutions and hope do exist, and our future is bright.
After the three days meeting in June, the same officials had an ‘audience’ with the Premier, Zhou Enlai, who gave a long, tortuous ideological speech. Zhou mentions the historical background:
First was Director Banchan’s [Panchen] report, which was submitted on May 18 [1962]. After that, the Tibetan and Chinese texts were double checked, and submitted again in June.  Now by July 19, four documents had been formulated, two months in between. This is a big job, and is well done. All of you at present have been kept in the mainland for ten months, the past two months being most important. Your task has been well accomplished. Based on the written report, four documents, Director Banchan’s two speeches and opinions from other comrades, [the four documents have been prepared].
Let us not forget that the Party was on the boil, with Mao preparing his come-back a few weeks later.
The Premier says:
We now have these four documents, primarily because Director Banchan submitted his report, and raised questions. The attitude of raising questions is in line with the frank, sincere and outspoken attitude shared by our nation’s senior cadres. Regardless of the content, [the report] recorded all or most of what he saw and what was in his mind. It is a good thing, and applaudable as [General Zhang] Jingwu said just now. In the past we didn’t have such a relationship with Dalai. He didn’t speak out when he had objections, playing a double game, saying one thing to us and another to Nehru; one thing in front of us and another thing to the conspirators behind our back, so we couldn’t be sure what he was up to. We communists were frank with him, but he thought the way.
Zhou Enlai refers to the visit of the Dalai Lama to India in 1956-57 and the long talks with the Indian Prime Minister (Incidentally, Nehru strongly advocated that the Dalai Lama should go back to Tibet and ‘work’ with the Chinese).
Zhou says that in March 1959, China had no clue that the Tibetans would revolt:
we had no clue when he [the Dalai Lama] started the rebellion. Even Apei [Ngabo Ngawang Jigme] was in the dark. We dispatched troops there only after the rebellion broke out. Why did Dalai play a double game? He took us as enemies instead of comrades and friends, and took Nehru as his own circle, the conspirators who plotted rebellion as his own circle, thus it was inevitable for him to play a double game. We were sincere and honest when we told him the Party’s attitude; for example, I talked with him twice in New Delhi and told him the Party’s attitude, but he wouldn’t listen, he listened to Nehru instead. So this made it hard for us to get along. This means that rebellion in Tibet was bound to happen, since he took Nehru as friend and took us as enemy. Now, the attitude adopted by Master Banchan is basically different from that of Dalai.
Zhow Enlai then explains:
When problems arise, the Party will make sure to solve them; you must know this particular characteristic of the Party by now. Do not evade problems and solve problems when they arise, this is the Party’s tradition over the past forty years. When problems are raised, they must be solved; however, this does not mean that all the problems raised are correct. Some are correct, some are not. As both situations exist, careful investigation is required. Correct ones should be accepted, as for the incorrect ones, either raise one’s opinions in a positive way, or criticize from an opposing angle.
The Panchen Lama assessment must have been very incorrect as he will have to spend from 1964 to 1978 in jail.
The next few weeks saw the ‘return’ of Mao on the stage, the purge of Xi Zhongxun and a war against India to make ‘Nehru’ pay for giving asylum to the Dalai Lama.
I have dealt with this in a separate paper.

Monday, September 12, 2016

India must not forget bitter partition lessons while tackling Kashmir

My article India must not forget bitter partition lessons while tackling Kashmir appeared in Mail Today.

Here is the link...

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China, he said that “to ensure durable bilateral ties, and steady development, it is of paramount importance that we respect each other’s aspirations, concerns and strategic interests.”
Later External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup explained: “You can pretty well understand that when we talk of strategic interests and aspirations, it is not as if China is unaware of our strategic concerns and aspirations or we are unaware of their concerns.”
Modi had not only the Valley in mind, but also Pakistan-occupied- Kashmir (POK).

In his August 15 speech, the Prime Minister had asserted: “The people of Balochistan, the people of Gilgit, the people of POK have thanked me in such a manner, from places that I have never been and never had a chance to meet, they have sent wishes to the people of India and thanked us... I am grateful to them.”
On the previous day, Pakistan’s Independence Day, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had dedicated his country’s independence to the “freedom of Kashmir from Indian rule”.
During the previous weeks, Pakistan had been bringing the Kashmir issue on the world scene.
Two issues forced India to take a tougher position to defend its interests: the current unrest in the Valley, but also the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), cutting across POK, in which Beijing plans to invest $46 billion.

To get proper historical perspectives of the current situation, it is necessary to go back to the year before the British left the jewel of their empire.
The British Empire, born from a trading company, was a sea-empire.
But at the beginning of the 20th century, two new factors appeared on the strategic scene: one was aviation (whose role was masterfully demonstrated by the Japanese at Pearl Harbour in 1941) and petrol, and therefore, the importance of the Middle East.
When the British Chiefs of Staff were ordered to submit a report on the strategic consequences of the departure from the subcontinent, the generals agreed that Pakistan was more important than India; they foresaw the possibility of installing air bases in the north of Pakistan to control Russia and naval bases opening to the Arabian Sea in the south.
Another argument was that Mohammed Ali Jinnah was extremely keen to remain within the Commonwealth while the Indian National Congress had not made up its mind.
Jinnah once forcefully told Mountbatten: “You can’t kick us out.”
Subsequently, London’s policy was meticulously implemented; as the time of Independence came, while Jinnah insisted on becoming the first Governor- General of Pakistan, the Congress big-heartedly offered the job in India to the Viscount.
This was the first of a long series of blunders. Then, when soon after Independence, the issue of Junagadh and Hyderabad came up, the Cabinet had to create a defence committee.
Who became its chairman? A Britisher, the same Mountbatten. Second blunder.

This was a surrealistic situation: two dominions, one with a Pakistani Governor- General, the other with a British; two armies, both commanded by British generals.
The ‘Indian’ British generals took orders from the British Governor- General and not from the Indian government; the Defence Committee being chaired by a Briton, often overrode the Cabinet’s decisions and a ‘stand-down’ order stated that British officers would not fight one another.
As a result, India could not defend itself. Such was the situation when the raiders trained, equipped and directed by Colonel Akbar Khan, military adviser of the Pakistani Prime Minister, entered Kashmir at the end of October 1947.
The story is too well known to be recounted here, but the interesting point is that the British constantly played a double game.
For example, General Douglas Gracey, the Pakistani Army Commander, knew of the raiders’ attack beforehand, but he did not ‘inform’ his ‘Indian’ British counterpart.
Another mega blunder: as the Indian Army was ready to chase back the raiders and the Pakistani regulars, Jawaharlal Nehru unnecessarily referred the issue to UN… on the advice of Clement Attlee, the British Prime Minister… and Mountbatten.

The invasion of J&K by Pakistani regular forces on May 8, 1948, was in contravention of all international laws.
Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai, the Secretary-General of the Ministry of External Affairs, wrote: “When even direct aggression failed, (Pakistan) began to clamour for a plebiscite, thereby hoping to achieve by other means what she had failed to obtain by force.”
Bajpai remarked that for the first time in its Resolution of August 13, 1948, the UN “recorded one major change in the situation as contemplated by the Security Council during its deliberations in the early part of that year, namely, the presence of Pakistan troops in the state of J&K.”
In this condition, the plebiscite never took place. It is important to keep this in mind, when one goes through the recent developments in the region.
It is essential to look at these events in their historical context. The large presence of Chinese ‘workers’ on a territory that was legally part of the India Union, and also the joint patrols conducted by PLA frontier defence troops and the Pakistani Khunjerab Security Force south of the Khunjerab pass (“aiming to offer security guarantee to the construction of the CPEC”), are naturally a serious concern for India.
Let us hope that China is now aware of India’s strategic concerns and aspirations in the region.

Mao’s return to power passes through India

Five years ago, I posted on my website, a longish paper on the Chinese motivations to go to war with India in October 1962.
If you are interested, click here to download.

One angle which has been insufficiently studied is the Chinese angle of the 1962 war. Why did China suddenly decide to slap Nehru? Who decided to inflict the worst possible humiliation on India?
Historical sources are still sparse, but going through some of the documents listed at the end of this paper one can get a fairly good idea of the Chinese motivations or more exactly the ‘political’ compulsions which pushed the Great Helmsman into this win-win venture.
This paper goes into the internal struggles within China between 1959 and 1962 and the role of Mao Zedong during these crucial years, with an emphasis on the tumultuous year (at least for the Party) 1962 and its consequences for Sino-Indian relations which culminated in an armed conflict in October-November 1962 and the circumstances under which Communist China went to this war.
A study of the CIA, Russian and East European archives, already partially opened, throws new light on the real motives behind the Chinese attack.
Further, in the early 1990’s, a few Chinese historians gave heir take on the events which led to the War.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Chinese War Preparations in Tibet ...in 1953

On April 29, 1954, a ‘momentous’ event took place in Beijing.
An Agreement between the Republic of India and the People's Republic of China on Trade and Intercourse between Tibet Region of China and India was signed.
Prime Minister Nehru later said that it was the best thing he had done in his political career.
Well, it was not so good for the Tibetans who lost their centuries-old independence.
It was not good for India too: she ended giving up all its rights in Tibet (telegraph lines, post offices, dak bungalows, military escort in Gyantse and Yatung, etc.), while getting no assurance on the border demarcation from the Chinese government, on the contrary.
But it was good for China, which consolidated (and legalized) its presence in Tibet.
The Agreement has remained in history for its ‘lovely’ preamble.
It says: “Being desirous of promoting trade and cultural intercourse between Tibet Region of China and India and of facilitating pilgrimage and travel by the peoples of China and India. Have resolved to enter into the present Agreement based on the following principles:
  1. mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty,
  2. mutual non-aggression,
  3. mutual non-interference in each other's internal affairs,
  4. equality and mutual benefit, and
  5. peaceful co-existence.
A two-thousand years old nation disappeared from the world map in the name of these principles.
Too bad said the diplomats in South Block, principles are more important.
It was the culmination of the Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai era.
Several authors have written that China later ‘betrayed’ India (one of them is B.N. Mullik, the IB Chief, who wrote: The Chinese betrayal; my years with Nehru).
But has China really betrayed India or was Delhi simply living in another planet?
It is not that the corridors of power in Delhi were not aware that China was preparing to ‘defend’ its frontiers.
Against whom, one could ask, if not India?
The first PLA troops arrived in Lhasa September 1951. A couple of thousands of them.
Less than 2 years later, despite the extremely difficult terrain, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) reached every border posts of Tibet (north of Lohit, Siang and Kameng Frontier Divisions in NEFA; in the Chumbi Valley between Sikkim and Bhutan, in Taklakot in the Kailash Manasarovar area or in Tashigong, the gate to Ladakh).
On February 12, 1953, a Top Secret report from the Indian Consulate in Lhasa (A.K. Sen was then the Consul General) was sent to the Ministry of External Affairs (Nehru was holding the portfolio). Probably due to the length of the message, it reached (deciphered) South Block on February 26 only.
The report refers to a query from the External Affairs Ministry (No. 27641 27th December 1952) asking details about the PLA’s presence on the plateau.
It shows that as early as February 1953, Delhi knew what was going in Tibet.
Then, where is the question of betrayal?
The issue of deployment of the PLA in Tibet was never taken by the negotiators, N. Raghavan, the India Ambassador in China and T.N. Kaul, the Chargé d’Affaires, who for months discussed the content of the infamous Panchsheel Agreement.
Why? Because India was a peace-loving country!!
Around the same time, the Ministry of Defence had ordered the Indian Army to cut 10,000 troops every year for a few years.
This is the sad tragedy of newly-independent India.
Today, the country still pays the price of the folly of the Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai policy.
It has to be noted that by the end of 1954, the Qinghai-Tibet Highway and Sichuan-Tibet Highway were opened to traffic (earlier India had to supply rice to the Chinese troops posted in Tibet!!).
In 2014, celebrating 60 years of the ‘bloodlines of Tibet’, China Tibet Online affirmed: "The running of the Qinghai-Tibet Highway and Sichuan-Tibet Highway not only accelerates the social and economic developments in Tibet, but is of great significance to link the plateau with the rest of the world"
The Qinghai-Tibet and Sichuan-Tibet highways (4,360 km) were both officially opened into traffic on December 25, 1954, "ending Tibet’s history of no modern highway".
This Report dates from nearly two years before the opening of the highways.

Here us the Report. It is quite comprehensive:
“All map references are to the map of Tibet, sheets Eastern and Western, prepared by the Survey of India.”

1. General
The total strength of Chinese troops in the whole of Tibet is estimated between 20,000 and 25,000 but including road workers the number would exceed. The Chinese admit it was their plan to have a force of 60,000 troops but the supply position forced them to abandon it for the time being although they said the present strength was NOT enough to guard the borders. There is NO doubt that with the completion of the Chamdo-Lhasa Road within the next two years more troops would be brought in. Chamdo is now connected with Kantse [Kangding?] by a motorable road.
Disposition of troops at present appears to be conditioned by
(1) road construction
(2) handling of supplies
(3) regulating movement of troops along important routes
(4) manning border outposts and
(5) garrison duty.
Concentration at the outposts cannot be considered to be heavy. They are well scattered in small detachments and are kept frequently on the move. This mobility would enable them to be concentrated at any place in an emergency with ease.

2. Questionnaire
The headquarters of the Army in the whole of Tibet is in Lhasa known as the Military Area Headquarters and is located in Maga Sarpa House.
Local Headquarters are believed to be at
•    Jyekundo (967330)
•    Chamdo (972312)
•    Giamda ( 931300)
•    Nagchuka (920315)
•    Kongbo (940298)
•    Pemako (953295)
•    Zayul (973288)
•    Tsona (921280)
•    Gyantse
•    Shigatse
•    Gurgunsa (Gartok)
•    and Chumbi Valley.
Outposts known to us are at
• Shika ( 971284)
• Tsona Pome (950300)
• Tsari (934287)
• Galinkha and Champithang (Chumbi Valley)
• Phari (892277)
• Penam (892292)
• Lhariguo (934308)
• Sok (938319)
• Pemba Go (950308)
• Denchin (955315)
• Shobando (959308)
• Lho Dzong (963308)
• Riwoche (965314)
• Taklakot (812303)
• Rudok (797335)
• Gyanima (808308)
• Khoodynath (814302)
• Tashigong (796326) [At that time, China was not claiming Demchok as yet]
Of these outposts Shika is a border post.
Tsona a garrison post whereas Galinkha and Chumpithang [Chumbi] are for handling supplies and constructing roads as well.
Duty of the rest would fall under categories 1, 2, 3, and 5 of paragraph 1 above.
With the information available it is NOT possible to answer all sub paras of the questionnaire in respect of all the posts. Certain conclusions can be drawn from observation at Lhasa, Gyantse and Chumbi Valley.
These are contained in the following general remarks:-

(ii) Sub para (b) (c) (f):
The basic weapons are rifles Sten TMG pistols revolvers and grenades. Their summer uniforms are of khaki cotton with soft peak cap. In winter cotton padded khaki coat and trousers. Those working in the fields or in colder regions are supplied with woolen trousers and fur lined coat. Officers wear woolen clothes in the winter. Turn-out is untidy as the clothes are seldom properly tailored or ironed.

(iii) Sub para (d) (e) (g) (h):
They are toughened up through a system of training peculiar to the Liberation Army. Apart from an hour of drill very early in the morning almost all are required to perform extensive agricultural work. Discipline is exemplary and is maintained very rigidly. Other exercises include range practice.
NO operational exercise has been reported as yet.

(iv) Sub para (i) (j) (l) (m): 
In the initial stage all rations were locally purchased such as barley flour, yaks and sheep the villagers were forced to supply these on payment.
Except for certain quantity of rice which is now transported from South China through India they still depend on local supplies. Procurement points have been established in certain areas in South Tibet and the supplies as also other equipment are moved by pack transport.
Troops are quartered in requisitioned/purchased houses in towns and among villages elsewhere immediately on arrival.
Construction of barracks and camps follow as soon as materials are available.
The chain of command is through Lhasa.
Communication is through a fairly well established wireless link.

(v) Sub para (n) (o): 
Some recruitment from the locals in Kham is reported. Three Regiments of the Tibetan Government Army are also under Command of the Chinese Army in Tibet although they are allowed to maintain their entity.
These and the local recruits are being trained in the use of normal arms. The relation between these locals and the Chinese troops is formal rather than cordial.

(vi) Sub para (r) (s) (t): 
The troops are told constantly that they are in Tibet to liberate their brethren and must be prepared to endure usual hardships for cause till regular supplies by the overland route is available. The mental state of the Chinese soldiers has to be understood in this context. Undoubtedly the average soldier feels the pinch of inadequate food, long separation from their families. A few had been seen weeping on quiet. Amenities are provided in the form of games and theatrical shows. The latter however reach the bigger establishments only.
Descriptions are few. So far only about a dozen reported.
The strict discipline and death penalty discourage desertion. Cases of execution were reported for loss of arms even.

(vii) Specific information regarding sub paras (a) (k) (p) and (q) in respect of all the posts mentioned in para 2 above are given below. Omission.
As regards 4 sub para (d) NO information available. Of the special weapons Bazooka has NOT been reported from anywhere while only one outpost according to an unconfirmed report has A.A. guns:-
 Shika. 1289500.
  • Detachment of 50 at Drowa Gompa (971288)
  • 100 at Pogchu (near Sama 970283)
  • 400 at Menkong (983285)
  • 200 at Nguchu (near the Indian border) detachments of unknown strength are also reported to be at Markham (98597)
  • Dayul Gompa (993293)
  • Sango Chyo (973293)
  • Petu (983288)
  • Sama(983288)
  • Rima (971284)
  • Sangu (2 miles North of Sama 970283)
  • and Donge (1 mile East of Shika).

Local Headquarters is at Zayul.
(1) Special weapons - 3 inch mortars, M.M.G., L.M.G. and large quantity of ammunition.
Defensive trenches reported to be constructed at Shika.

(2) Details about Zayul and Pemako NOT available.

(3) Tsona
Troops- 3000 Detachment of 500 at Naysimbi (exact location NOT indicated in map but somewhere in 9228) 500 at Takpo (929289). Special weapons - L.M.G., 2 inch mortar. Mountain guns reported.

(4) Pome
Troops - 200. Local Headquarters at Kongbo. Special weapons - mountain guns.

(5) Tsari
Troops- 200. Local Headquarters at Kongbo.

(6) Kongbo

Troops - 200,

(7) Chumbi Valley
Headquarters at Galinkha 4 miles towards Phari from Yatung.
Troops at Galinkha and Chotenkarpo, about a mile South is 1000. Detachment of 100 at Chumbi South of Yatung,
900 at Rinchengang (889275), Geiling and Pema (nearby),
400 at Champithang (Indo Tibetan border).
Special weapons - mountain guns, L.M.G., M.M.G., 3 and 2 inch mortars, A.A. guns (at Galinkha - report unconfirmed),
Telephone line between Galinkha and Richengang erected.
Barracks under construction at Galinkha, Chotenkarpo, Chumbi.
Rinchengang and Champithang.
17 store - houses built at Chotenkarpo and 20 wooden sheds with tarpauline covers at Champithang.
Rations also stored at Rinchengang, Chema South of Chumbi, Chumbi and Galinkha.
A party of about 121 were reported to be constructing she is similar to those in Champithang near Langmarpo (Tibet - Bhutan border, 8 miles from Yatung). They were armed with bren and rifles.

(8) Phari
Troops - 800.
Important supply procurement point and station for facilitating troop movement. Local Headquarters at Gyantse. Special weapons - L.M.G. 2 and 3 inch mortars.
Trenches dug around the houses requisitioned.
A wireless station ha s been established at PANGDATSANG's house (Tibetan Trade Commission at Yatung).

(9) Gyantse
Troops including small supply of equipment
  • Detachments at Tuna (893280)
  • Dochen(993282)
  • Kala (895284)
  • Samada (896285)
  • Khangma (898286) - 15 to 20 hundred. Special weapons- L.M.G. and light mortars.
  • Wireless station at Phunkhang house with internal telephone. Barracks under construction.
(10) Penam
Troops – 500.
Local Headquarters - Gyantse.

(11) Shigatse
Troops about 3 to 4 thousand.
Special weapons - L.M.G., 3 inch mortars. Wireless station established. Accommodation in PANCHEN LAMA's summer residence.

(12) Lhasa
  • Troops including Dechen (914299)
  • Medu Gongkar about 30 miles N.E. of Dechen - 5 to 7 thousand. Special weapons - L.M.G., mountain guns, light mortars.
  • Wireless station link with China at Mentopa house.
  • 11 sets for internal communication, 2 working for 24 hours. Accommodation in about 10 houses purchased and in camps. Barracks under construction.
  • Installations: A hydro-electric power station is to be installed soon. A number of pill boxes accommodating 8 sentries each erected in Lhasa town.
(13) Giamda
Troops - 350.
Road workers 5 to 10 thousand. Barrack construction.

(14) Lhariguo
Troops – 30.
Local Headquarters – Giamda.

(15) Nagchuka
Troops- permanently stationed - 200. A Commissariat office to arrange transport and supplies for troops moving from towards Lhasa reported. Supplies received from Jyekundo.

(16) Sok
Troops - 400,
Local Headquarters – Nagchuka.

(17) Pembago
Troops - 50.
Local Headquarters - Chamdo.

(18) Denchin
Troops – 400.
Local Headquarters- Chamdo.

(19) Shobando
Troops – 30.
Local Headquarters – Chamdo.

(20) Lho Dzong
Troops - 100.
Local Headquarters – Chamdo.

(21) Chamdo
Troops - 500
Wireless station established.

(22) Riwoche
Troops – 100.
Local Headquarters – Chamdo.

(23) Jyekundo
Troops - about 5000 including 1700 locals.

(24) Western Tibet

Information as to Western Tibet relatively scanty unfortunately. In 1950 the Chinese advanced towards Rudok and Taklakot with about 500 troops. The present strength could NOT have been increased beyond 2 to 3 thousand due to difficulty in obtaining supplies. They are reported to be at Rudok, Gyanima, Gargunsa (Gartok Headquarters), Taklakot, Khojernath, and Tashigong.
The latter 3 act as check posts. Caravans of dzos, yaks, camels carrying supplies from Lhasa via Shigatse reported. Some supplies are also obtained from Sinkiang. Special weapons - (noticed at Khojernath) L.M.G.
Wireless link with Lhasa.

3. Communications.
(a) The overland route to China from Lhasa via Chamdo and Kantse is under construction.
Motorable road up to Chamdo from Kantse has been completed.
At the time of writing reports indicate that it was extended 2 stages beyond Chamdo towards Lhasa. The Giamda - Lhasa road is also nearing completion. Other roads under construction are: Medu Gongkar - Lhasa road, Nathula - Gyantse via Phari and Yatung. Contemplated projects are: Giamda - Chamdo, Chamdo-Shika, Gyantse - Shigatse, Shigatse- Gartok, Rudok - Yarkand ( a start is reported to have been made), Nagchuka - Lhasa, and Shigatse - Shekar Dzong (871286).

(b) In Shika: Menkong - Rima track was widened. Shika - Somchu track improved for 2 way mule traffic. In Chumbi Valley: Champithang - Yatung track is kept in constant repair for mule traffic carrying rice from India. A cart road between Phema and Chotenkarpo constructed.

(c) In Chumbi Valley: Bridge on the river Amugam (Brahamaputra) under construction. The bridge near Yatung Bazar to be strengthened to take load of bullock carts. In Shika:

  • Wodden bridge over Lohit river near Shika
  • At Sapchu between Sama and Sangu and
  • A number of wooden bridges between Rima and Sama capable of bearing load of pack mules constructed. Wooden bridges over 2 rivers near Nagchuka built.

4 and 5. Transport.
The normal transport are pack animals. The Chinese still depend on local transport supplied by the villagers without putting a great strain on the resources of the people.
Circumstances indicate the Chinese are forming pack transport units of their own. One such unit of 80 dzos (cross between yak and cow) was seen at Gyantse.
Camel caravans were reported between Lhasa and Chusul (40 miles South of Lhasa) and towards Shigatse.

Number of animals at the following posts are known to us:-
  • Lhasa: 5 to 7 hundred mules and ponies, 500 camels.
  • Chumbi Valley: 2 to 3 hundred mules believed to be loaned from the PANCHEN LAMA’S Estate for transport of rice.
  • Phari: about 50 mules.
  • Gyantse: 100 mules.
  • Penam: 150 mules.
  • Shigatse: at least 600 camels. The total strength of animals now with the Chinese is believed to be round about 5 to 6 thousand.
  • 3 jeeps were reported to have been brought into Lhasa of which two are seen.

6. Airfields and landing grounds.
An airfield is reported near Chamdo. Two planes are said to be arriving daily from China. Air dropping near Giamda and Pembago reported. NO information is available about landing grounds or air strips in any other area. The proposed site for constructing a landing ground for Lhasa Area is said to be near Medu Gongkar.

7. Nothing to report.

8. Propaganda.
(a) Through lectures, theatrical shows, posters, leaflets.
(b) (i) The main object of the propaganda directed towards the troops is to build up their morale stress on the strength of new China and her powerful ally the U.S.S.R. and as such is quite effective.
(ii) The local people are still mentally hostile towards the Chinese. The Chinese propaganda, at times puerile, does NOT sink into the religious Tibetan minds. There had been instances of destruction of the posters an d leaflets displayed by the Chinese. But the Chinese believe in harping on whatever they have to say with the strongest of conviction. Future results unpredictable.

Deciphered 27/2/53