Demand for Fact-finding Grossly Premature by Lt Gen P R Shankar (R)

Demand for fact-finding grossly premature & unfair as situation still volatile in eastern Ladakh

July 10, 2020, 5:32 PM IST  in Voices | India | TOI

144 veterans have addressed a joint statement to the President, PM, RM, CDS and Chiefs of Services drawing attention to the failure in the political, civil, and military establishments, especially in intelligence acquisition in the ongoing Sino-Indian military situation in eastern Ladakh. They have demanded, that a ‘fact-finding body’ be constituted to go into various issues raised by them.

To demand a ‘fact-finding body’ when the situation is still volatile belays good judgement. Besides finding facts ‘the body’ will find faults with individuals who are currently handling a volatile and critical situation. It places a gun to the commanders’ heads at all levels. It’s not fair.

Those officers and men who are up there at 16,500 feet are putting their lives at stake for the safety and security of the nation. Do not demoralize them. Sure, there will be shortcomings and lessons in this entire episode. Some individuals and systems will be found short. They can wait. What is the hurry to have an inquiry when the event is not yet over? When the time comes, I will be the first one to cry hoarse from the Karakorams. Not now! We will attend to them later. Till then, well done boys! Continue to hold the flag high.

On the issue of ‘failure in the political, civil, and military establishments especially in intelligence acquisition’. Sure, there are gaps in capability and structure of our intelligence, acquisition, and operations. However, have they failed like they did at Kargil? No. Let us get the broader perspective right. China has been itching to put India down militarily ever since we surprised and stymied them at Doklam in 2017. As it has evolved, this operation has been elaborately planned by China at the highest level in minute detail. It is perfidy of the highest order after all the friendship display at Mamallapuram.

The People’s Liberation Army attempted multiple incursions from Naku La in Sikkim to DBO, Demchok, Fingers Area, Hot Springs, Galwan, Gogra, Depsang, Y-junction and maybe elsewhere in Sikkim.  All these have been contested. At each of these places, the incursions are nix or negligible except at Pangong Tso. Even here there was a clash at the Fingers Area early in May.  So where is the failure? If anything, India has thwarted China twice.

Unchecked incursion at Naku La and Galwan could have resulted in our troops in the Giagong Plateau or the DSDBO road being cut off, respectively. If any of these attempts were successful it would surely have been a national disaster. If the ambush at Galwan had been successful and had the Chinese suffered lesser casualties, China would have declared victory all the way back to the Middle Kingdom and would have painted the town red of having taught India a lesson. Full credit to our boys for giving China a bloody nose. The Indian armed forces have not only averted a major national embarrassment but have made China look small and stupid. If China has been able to come up to Finger-4 in Pangong Tso area, it is only due to the terrain advantage of a relatively better and faster approach to the area.

Presently there is a dialogue and disengagement process on. Some disengagement has taken place. It is a long haul. 

The Pangong Tso incursion should be evacuated eventually. If not, China stands to face some serious strategic repercussions which have started unfolding already. Let us exhibit strategic patience and not political or emotional impatience. In the same breath, I would like to add that some of our worthy senior veterans have been making a bee line to TV studios. Most talk sheer nonsense. One stooped low to utter profanities. Forgotten to be officers or gentlemen?

India is in a dangerous neighborhood with two nuclear adversaries in active collusion. To expect any government to conclude implementable boundary agreements with them is wishful thinking. To expect wonders to happen in defence procurements, counter-insurgency deployments and so on at this stage is premature.

While all these veterans state that they have no political affiliations, the content of their statement says otherwise.  For over half a century, successive governments have not declassified the Henderson Brooks Report. There must be a good reason. I was a battery commander in the Hathungla Battalion during 1991-92. Our boys used to often come across unidentifiable remains of the men who fought and died unsung at Namka Chu in 1962. We did our best to honor those brave men by a prayer and an in situ decent disposal of those remains – bones, mess tins, helmets, shoes et al, as possible. It was sorrowful. We let them rest there in peace.

Similarly, let that Henderson Brooks Report lie in its grave.  India has moved past it. Opening that Pandora’s box might singe those very parties which are probably backing these venerated veterans.

The 144 veterans have stated that each of them has only has the best interest of India and the Armed Forces at heart in raising issues. I have no doubt about it. After all, some of them have held apex positions and were once instrumental in shaping the destiny of this country. If I were Mark Anthony, I would say, ‘Brutus was an honorable man’. If I were one of the Caesars in the battlefields of Ladakh, I would say ‘Et Tu Brutus’. India is a great democracy and I will only say ‘This too Shall Pass’. I continue to honor my fellow 144 veterans despite their ideas.


21 responses to “Demand for Fact-finding Grossly Premature by Lt Gen P R Shankar (R)”

  1. A very balanced and pragmatic article. Hope good sense prevails.

  2. In total agreement with the author. It’s sad that a mere handful of veterans indulge in such pathetic ‘baggage carrying’ on behalf of political parties, while pretending to act as if they are doing so In the interest of the brave martyrs, the Units involved, the army and the country. Such a foolish thing to do when we are required to stand united and fight the Chinese. Don’t they know that our brave soldiers inflicted more than twice the number of casualties on the Chinese. They seem unable to digest this fact as it doesn’t suit their agenda. Do they really think that their actual motives for doing this cannot be seen through by the hundreds of thousands of remaining veterans. What gives them the right to mislead the public to believe that they represent the veterans at large? Do they want the army to function like a police force? This is the biggest insult they could have done to the brave martyrs, the army and the units which fought so bravely and inflicted two to three times the casualties they suffered on the Chinese. The army needs to display the list of these 12 dozen ‘gentlemen’ in all the units for the information of the serving personnel.

  3. As usual Gen Shankar has hit the nail on the head. We need to stand with our troops. Political agenda of 144 veterans is obvious. Gen Shankar has echoed feelings of a large number of veterans. Kudos.

  4. Excellent article. Views of the author are very valuable and valid. It will be too premature to nominate a fact finding committee, when the events are not yet over and unfolding many interesting sequences every day.

  5. Terrible to see these so called patriots rush off to air their views in public every time when anything of any consequence comes up. Their affiliations can be clearly also their intense antipathy n hatred for the present government which has done so well by the country n its people

  6. Totally agree with the author. Have these honourable veterans gone senile? If no, then one is forced to doubt their motivation.

  7. Fade away dear 144 veterans if you have nothing positive to contribute. Your cheap antics even on TV screens are damaging the veteran community which is known for its insights and sagacity

  8. Gen Shankar has offered a very balanced view on demands for immediately setting up a fact finding body to assess the fault lines in our response to recent Chinese incursion along the LAC. The issues involved are complex because of the legacy issues. Be it at the policy level…overall perception, impractical belief in non-voilence and non-allignment, ignorance about military affairs….to include intelligence gathering apparatus, infrastructure, knowledge about as to how battles are fought and won at tactical level and the need to have a well oiled man machine combination that actually wins the battle for you. From time to time, many in the decision making positions suffer from a myopic view that the expenditure on modernising the defence forces is an avoidable and wasteful expenditure. They forget that the power among the community of nations, still flows from the barrel of the gun. So neglect it, only at your peril. Hope the authorities that be have learnt their lessons from recent developments.It is different that despite the monumental neglect, our army showed it's real mettle, even with bare hands and taught Chinese, a lesson of their life. That was an outstanding exhibition of raw courage, grit, guts and dare. However, that is not how long drawn battles can be fought and won. Ultimately you need a modern fighting machine to retain superiority and to take the battle to your enemy's heartland.However, our brave hearts have shown that the most important component of a war machine, still is “the Man behind the Gun”. So, the first thing first. Fix the responsibility as to who is responsible to reduce such brave men to a status of an unskilled labour and a chowkidar? Who is responsible to fix their pay and allowances and pensions (OROP), that are lower than the police forces. Who is responsible for trying to downsize or erode their facilities like free rations which were essentially meant to provide them the calories needed to remain fit under different conditions in plains, hills, jungles, deserts and high altitudes…including Siachin. Who put restrictions on their LTC claims,Canteen facilities and virtually every other special privilege and entitlement, since post independence days.Fortunately, we have an Army whose rich regimental traditions and ethics driven by strong national sentiments, will not ever prevent them for giving nothing less than their best, when the national honour is at stake. No matter how they are treated by an ungrateful nation. Hope, the fact finding body will not miss to investigate as to how the nation fails to offer the best to armed forces personnel who have delivered nothing less than the very best, in service to the nation.True respect is paid to the soldier not when he is at the height of his glory but when he is well past the days of glory. So, respect, honour and reward the men who fight for national honour with their lives on their sleeves. Look after them and their families, well into their old age and sunset days.

  9. Excellent article as always

  10. Veterans pl remain quite .what did u do for those under u when u were at the helm of the affairs,operationally or for the welfare of those under you .did any one of u ever offer to resign on moral grounds .no .only one .naval chief .so just keep quite .u didnot do proud to the motto of chetwood hall Col. H s

  11. Yes Sir✌🏻🇮🇳

  12. Well done Gen, you have put the things in perspective. These 144 should give an account of themselves as they would be responsible for many shortcomings during their time. They’re shooting of unarmed called letter shows them in poor light and falling for an called political misguidance. The Galwan story unfolds to overall India’s advantage. Not only it has shown China in poor light but also given an opportunity to us to rally against the Chinese strategically, diplomatically and economically. There is no need for any fact-finding which is surely backed by political agenda. Are they ignorant about the basic system followed by the army at all levels that each operational incident is thoroughly analysed. Lessons are drawn and incorporated in future plans. Maybe these veterans are having guilt pangs of being shoddy during their tenure, hence losing faith in the system.You have hung your boots and now don’t be a pain.

  13. In time of national emergency situation like the one prevailing across Indo China border, there should be no hypothetical discussion based on hearsay on national channels. A mechanisms should be put in place where a MOD/MEA spokesperson should only brief the press as necessary and not leave things to be misinterpreted as is being done. The self styled Defencce Experts should be discouraged to come on the TV channels and give their distorted imaginary versions of the prevailing situation. Use of foul/derogatory language on the national TV can do serious harm to the reputation of Veteran fraternity.

  14. The article drives the point home precisely। Also brings out the spreading malaise of collective political activism in vaterans taking this or that side assuming dispburbing proportions। They r fully entitled to have political views individually , though।

  15. Gen Shanker has brought about a very balanced and practical thoughts. Those raising questions are nothing but having received political favour now and then. What have they done for the betterment of Armed Forces when they had the opportunities.crrying faul trying to gain mileage from others performance could only be termed being opportunist, timid and anti Armed Forces. Right or wrong, our breave hearts have done what was expected out of them and the fear of Northern adverseries that lingured in out mind and teachings have been uncovered and a new era has emerged.I am proud to be associated with this great organization and stand with the new govt for their more nationalist political will.

  16. Gen Shanker has brought about a very balanced and practical thoughts. Those raising questions are nothing but having received political favour now and then. What have they done for the betterment of Armed Forces when they had the opportunities.crrying faul trying to gain mileage from others performance could only be termed being opportunist, timid and anti Armed Forces. Right or wrong, our breave hearts have done what was expected out of them and the fear of Northern adverseries that lingured in out mind and teachings have been uncovered and a new era has emerged.I am proud to be associated with this great organization and stand with the new govt for their more nationalist political will.

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Very Well articulated Gen .knee jerk overreaction by respected 144 Veterans ! Appears to be Corana Effect .Helping the Enemy Countries and Enemy within .

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