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Classified 1962 war report revealed for first time

The Hindu Archives A wounded Indian soldier being evacuated to hospital during the 1962 war with China.
For the first time, a large section of the still classified Henderson Brooks Report, which details a comprehensive operational review of India’s military debacle in 1962, has been made public. A more than 100-page section of the first volume of the report, which includes an exhaustive operational review of the India-China war over both western and eastern sectors, has been published by Australian journalist Neville Maxwell on his website. The now retired Mr. Maxwell was a former correspondent of The Times of London who reported on the war from New Delhi. He authored in 1970 ‘India’s China War’ — a path-breaking, yet controversial, account of the conflict which angered the Indian establishment by drawing upon classified information to highlight the flawed decision-making that led to defeat at the hands of the Chinese.

Explaining his decision to release, for the first time, four chapters of the still classified report, Mr. Maxwell said he believed he was “complicit in a continuing cover-up” by keeping the report to himself.

“The reasons for the long-term withholding of the report must be political, indeed probably partisan, perhaps even familial,” he wrote in an explanatory note on his website.

The report indicts the highest levels of the government — from the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's own office and the Defence Ministry — particularly for its Forward Policy, which was enforced, the report reveals, despite considerable concerns and objections from on-the-ground military commands that lacked resources.

It underlines the deep disconnect between Delhi and Army commands on assessing how China would react to the Forward Policy.


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