NEW DELHI, March 18 � Fifty-two years after the infamous Chinese aggression, a highly classified report, known as the Henderson Brooks report, was posted online prompting India to block it within hours.
The study on the debacle of the Indian Army, carried out by Lt Gen Henderson Brooks and assisted by Brigadier PS Bhagat running into hundreds of pages, analysed the military defeat in the 1962 war with China.
A large section of the Henderson Brooks report was recently posted by Australian journalist and author Neville Maxwell on his website. The New Delhi correspondent for The Times, Maxwell published his controversial 1970 book �India�s China War� based on this report.
The report is still highly classified and the Central Government has so far resisted making it public. �Based on an internal study by the Indian Army, the contents (of the report) are not only extremely sensitive, but are of current operational value,�� Defence Minister AK Antony told Lok Sabha in a written reply in April 2010.
The Ministry of Defence has reacted by stating that it has come across news reports which state that Australian journalist Neville Maxwell has put out sections allegedly from the Henderson Brooks report on the Indo-China conflict of 1962.
Given the extremely sensitive nature of the contents of the report, which are of �current operational value�, it is reiterated that the Government of India has classified this report as a Top Secret document, and, as such, �it would not be appropriate to comment on the contents uploaded by Neville Maxwell on the Web.�
This newspaper managed to download parts of the report running into 126 pages. The report itself is divided into four parts. The second and third part deal with the India-Tibet sector covering the then NEFA (Arunachal Pradesh) and the Four Corp, while the last part contains the conclusions, which have not been released by Maxwell.
Only two typewritten copies of the report, prepared by Indian Army generals Brooks and Bhagat in 1963, are believed to exist. One is with the office of the Defence Secretary, and the other in the Indian Army�s Military Operations Directorate.
Maxwell, 87, wrote on his blog that frustrated at not seeing the report being declassified even after over half a century, he has decided to release it. �The reasons for the long-term withholding of the report must be political, indeed probably partisan, perhaps even familial,� he wrote on his website.
He recounted his attempts to give the report to five Indian newspaper editors since 1992. All of them refused saying that the leaking of the report would create a furore and that there would be little or no productive analysis of its contents.
�As I see it, now I have no option, but, rather than leave the dilemma to my heirs, to put the report on the internet myself. So here is the text (there are two lacunae, accidental in the copying process),� Maxwell noted.
The report said Henderson Brooks was mainly asked to look into five areas � Training, Equipment, System of Command, Physical fitness of troops, Capacity of Commander at all levels to influence the mend under their command.
The report said the then Chief of Army Staff had on December 12, 1962, initiated an operation to review the reverses suffered by the Army, particularly in the Kameng Frontier Division of NEFA.
However, Lt Gen Brooks noted that the review of the functioning of the Army Headquarters was not dealt with on the advice of COAS. Thus, perforce the actions and developments of the Army HQs had to be traced from documents available at the Command HQs.
In the process, a number of loose ends concerning the Army Headquarters could not be verified and have been left unanswered. The relationship between the Defence Ministry and the Army HQs, directions given by the formations to the latter could, therefore, not be examined as well.
The report goes into the goof-ups, orders and counter-orders issued to the troops in the field in a clear display of confusion at the highest level.
Referring to the fall of Bombdila, the report said that it was first Bomdila, then right back to the foothills, then forward to Rupa, and finally midway to Chaku. To blame the hapless Brigade Commander for not being able to restore the situation is to find a scapegoat.
Under the circumstances, how the Brigade remained a fighting force despite these orders and counter-orders was due to the Brigade Commander striving till last to organise whatever little force he had, the report said.
This ends the story of the famous �Fighting Fourth�. In the end, all that could be mustered for the last fight were six weak infantry companies, out of a total force of 16 battalions, and countless other troops of the supporting area and services.