Home arrow Archives arrow Economic Highlights
News and Features
INFA Digest
Parliament Spotlight
Journalism Awards
Economic Highlights
For Better Command & Control: CHIEF OF DEFENCE STAFF A MUST,by COL (Retd) PK Vasudeva, 5 Nov, 07 Print E-mail

Defence Notes

New Delhi, 5 November 2007

 For Better Command & Control


 By COL. (Retd.) P. K. Vasudeva, Ph.D.

Prof ICFAI International Relations, Business School Chandigarh

Laying bare the claims on the efficacy of joint military commands of the army, navy and air force, the Parliamentary Committee on Defence in its last meeting commented that there is “no jointness” in these commands. In its report tabled in the monsoon session of  Parliament, the committee found that that there still exists a serious lack of synergy between the three services, as was evident during the Kargil conflict.

The Committee visited the Andaman and Nicobar Command and found that the required synergy between the three services was missing. “The Committee understands that the senior officers of the command can issue orders to personnel belonging to their respective forces only. There is no jointness of command and control. The Committee feels that there is a serious lacuna and earnest efforts should be taken to correct it immediately”, the report states.

Stating that the Chiefs of Staff assumed the role of operational commanders to the respective forces, rather than Chief of the Staff to the Prime Minister and Defence Minister, it added: “This led to a number of negative results and protocol problems.” Further, it reiterated the need for creating the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in order to boost synergy among the three services and provide a single point military advice to the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister. The advance democracies - USA, UK, and EU - have Joint Chief of the Staff looking after the operations and peace time requirements of all the three services.

Importantly, it reiterated that its recommendations be taken seriously by the Government and a CDS appointed at the earliest and, till that was done, the functioning of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) should be seriously streamlined and positively made effective.

As it stands, the COSC is meant to support the Chairman, bring together and coordinate several functions common to the three Services. However, it has been proved beyond doubt even during the Kargil war that the Chairman of the COSC is a defunct body having no clear cut roles assigned officially.  Presently, the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Suresh Mehta is the Chairman of the COSC, being the senior most of the three services chiefs.

Recall, post Independence, all the three services chiefs were given independent command of their respective services under the Defence Minister. They were given the status equivalent to the Cabinet Secretary, a position resented by the Defence Secretary who is junior in the warrant of precedence.

On the recommendations of the Subramanium Committee Report on Kargil for a CDS, the Government appointed a Task Force headed by the former Minister of State for Defence Arun Singh to give its recommendations on defence and security matters. Singh too endorsed the formation of CDS on the lines of other world democracies. Finally, a Group of Ministers under the then Home Minister Advani also recommended the appointment of a CDS in rotation. With the rider that the Defence Secretary would be the Principle Secretary. 

The Government finalised the basic structure of the CDS to revamp the top defence management. The GoM also approved the setting up of a Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the tri-service Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) under the Indian Naval Vice Admiral to promote joint planning and execution of military affairs.

The CDS was to be a four-star officer assisted by a Vice Chief of Defence Staff (VCDS) and four Deputy Chiefs of Defence Staff (DCDS), from the three services, who would look after the functional areas of Operations, Intelligence (DIA), Medical and Planning respectively. And the ANC would report to the CDS. 

Details of the tri-service Strategic Force Command (SFC) comprising the country’s nuclear forces were also finalised. The C-in-C of the strategic forces would report to the CDS, who would be the principal military adviser to the Government. Further, the National Defence Academy (NDA) and the National Defence College (NDC) would also function under the supervision of CDS.

The tri-service Defence Intelligence Agency would be headed by a DCDS who would pool together the intelligence resources of the three services through coordination and sharing of information. The DCDS (Intelligence) would also double up as an adviser to the Defence Secretary, Defence Minister, and Union Cabinet, to ensure that the Defence Intelligence inputs reach the decision-makers weel on time. 

However, while the decision of the CDS was awaiting clearance from the Finance Ministry, the then Air Chief Marshal Tipnis played a spoilsport. Unhappy with the CDS structure, he reportedly wrote to the then Defence Minister Jaswant Singh to put the proposal on hold as the IAF view had not been taken into account. 

The IAF opposition to the revamp of the country’s defence management, it now unravels, was because of the proxy war for the control of the 2,500 km nuclear warhead delivery vehicle. Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) Agni II. Thanks to the squabbles, the Government has decided to hand over the Agni-II IRBM to the Army, which has been told to raise a Strategic Rocket Command to operationally handle surface-based nuclear weapons.

Significantly, all the recommendations by the GoM were accepted by the Government with a rider that various political parties be consulted before taking a final view on the recommendation relating to the institution of CDS. So far only four political parties have responded on the Ministry’s queries and the Government has still to reach a consensus among all the political parties.

India is perhaps the only major democracy where the Armed Forces Headquarters are outside the apex Governmental structure. The Chiefs of Staff have assumed the role of operational commanders of their respective forces rather than that of Chiefs of Staffs to the Cabinet. They simultaneously discharge the roles of operational commanders and national security planners/managers, especially in relation to buying equipment and force postures with most of their time devoted to operations. Thus, future long term planning suffers even though all the three services headquarters have been integrated with the MoD.

At a theoretical level, the civilian-military interaction constitutes a critical and controversial relationship in any country, be it a democracy or a dictatorship. Ideally, the civilian and the military form two distinct domains, each with a specific set of functions. According to Clausewitz, while the decision to go to war is made by the political establishment, the military is responsible for the actual conduct of war on the battlefield. Yet this relationship is not as simple as it appears at first glance.

Tragically, the crying need for a General No 1 will not be met anytime soon. Apart from political apathy and bureaucratic opposition, even the Armed Forces are reluctant to move forward on the crucial CDS issue. Experts, aver that in the absence of a CDS, the Army, Navy and IAF may well continue to behave as "headless chickens", squabbling with each other, as was seen during the 1999 Kargil conflict. ---- INFA

(Copyright India News & Feature Alliance)


Henderson-Brookes Report: PUBLISH IN NATIONAL INTEREST, by Lt Gen Pran Pahwa, 29 October 2007 Print E-mail

Defence Notes

New Delhi, 29 October 2007

Henderson-Brookes Report


 By Lt Gen Pran Pahwa

The months of October and November 1962 represent perhaps the darkest period of India’s post-Independence history. By the end of November, the country stood humiliated and friendless with its army comprehensively defeated by the Chinese, its foreign policy in tatters and not a single of its non-aligned friends coming out in its favour.

The unhappy experience of 1962 brought home to the Government the importance of having the country’s military capability match its foreign policy. With a view to making the Indian army a more efficient fighting machine, Lieutenant General Henderson-Brookes was directed to inquire into the causes of the army’s defeat and suggest remedial measures.

Lt General Henderson-Brookes submitted his report within a short period thereafter but it has never been made public. It is in the interest of the country that the report be published and not kept under wraps any longer.

It could be argued that unlike Pakistan, which even now masochistically continues to brood on its 1971 defeat, India has put the memory of 1962 behind it and moved on. Nothing would therefore be achieved by publishing the report now. Such a step would only reopen old wounds and lead to needless mud slinging at people who are long dead and gone.

These are valid arguments but there are equally strong other reasons why the report should be published. The Government and the army took some patently unsound decisions like the ‘forward policy’ both before and during the operations. It is important to know if the Government consulted the army before ordering such militarily untenable moves.

Similarly, we must know what was the army’s reaction when it was given the task of throwing out the Chinese, something it knew it did not have the capability to do? Was it given an opportunity to present its side of the case to the Government, and if so, at what level? Who finally over-ruled the army’s objection and for what reasons?

The report can throw light on this and other inter-actions between the Government and the army. It may also highlight the drawbacks in the system of higher defence management and communication or lack of it between the heads of the Armed Forces and the decision-makers at that time. This which will enable us to see whether there has been any meaningful improvement since then.

The report could also clarify how it was that the army meekly accepted a task that it fully well knew it could not carry out. Voices within the army must have been raised against it. How and why were they suppressed? This information is necessary to guard against the country being once again pushed into a situation that is not militarily viable.

One would also like to know what directions were given by the Army Headquarters to the subordinate formations for such tasks and how it dealt with any objections raised by them.

The reasons for the Government deciding not to use the air force against the Chinese have never been convincingly explained. Was it a purely political decision or did the army also oppose its use, fearing that it might adversely affect the maintenance of its forward troops by air?

The air force has often claimed that it had a clear edge over the Chinese air force at that time and that had it been used it could have altered the final outcome of the war. Did it convey this to the Government and the army, and if so, what was their reaction? If the non-use of air was on account of poor inter-service coordination and understanding then it needs to be seen whether any steps have been taken to improve it.

Soldiering is not a profession which gives one the opportunity to learn on the job. The lessons thrown up by earlier conflicts play an important role in a soldier’s training for war. That is another reason why the Henderson-Brookes report must be published. The army must learn from the lessons of the operations against the Chinese.

It may be argued that the 1962 war was fought a long time ago and that what happened then will not be relevant now, but that is not true. The lessons of war are immutable and those from the 1962 operations are as relevant today as they were then.

It is difficult to understand why all the Governments since 1962 have refused to release the Henderson-Brookes report. There does not appear to be any logic to it. The report could affect only three classes of people --- the political, the army and the bureaucracy.

It could be that the report is too critical of the politicians and the Government of that time (which it probably is not, as this aspect would normally be outside the charter of a military professional), but that could hardly be a reason for its non-publication because all the key political figures of that time are already dead.

Moreover, there have been several non-Congress Governments at the Centre since then which would have been only too happy to release a report that damages the image of their rival.

The army could have objected on the grounds of security when the report was first submitted but that can not be a reason today. The military situation now is totally different from that of 1962 as the construction of a large number of roads in the forward areas has totally changed the topography of those regions.

The defensive positions, weapon systems, communications and logistics of today have no relationship with those of the earlier days. Nothing that is written in the report can therefore affect future operations. It is understood that the army has already conveyed to the Government that it has no objection to the report being declassified.

That brings us to the third set of people affected --- the bureaucracy. The report in all probability holds, among other factors, the procedures and systems followed in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) at that time as being to quite a degree responsible for the lack of operational readiness and ineffectiveness of the army.

Not only were these procedures tedious and time consuming, they also interposed civilian bureaucrats between the service headquarters and the Government at every stage, thereby obstructing direct communication between the military and the political decision-makers.

Much has changed in the Forces and the MoD since 1962 but these procedures, which gave over-riding powers to the bureaucrats, have remained largely unchanged. It is possible that the bureaucrats fear that there may be a public outcry for reviewing these procedures and the civil-military relationship in the MoD if the report is published and this may in turn result in diluting their powers.

There have been earlier cases where they have succeeded in shelving reports whose recommendations if implemented would have impinged on their authority. In the case of the Henderson-Brookes report too, the bureaucrats may have somehow managed to prevail upon successive Governments to withhold the publication of the report. It is difficult to think of any other reason.

However, notwithstanding the objections from any quarter, the Government must now release the report, as it would be in the national interest to do so. ---- INFA

(Copyright India News & Feature Alliance)



Defence Services Rivalry: TUSSLE FOR HIGHER RANKS NORMAL, by Lt Gen (Retd) Pran Pahwa, 1 October 200 Print E-mail

Defence Notes

New Delhi, 1 October 2007

Defence Services Rivalry


By Lt Gen (Retd) Pran Pahwa

 People appear to be surprised at the battle going on between the defence Services for a larger share of the higher ranks recommended by the AV Singh Committee Report. This should be no cause for amazement. Inter-Services rivalry is common in most armed forces world over and India is no exception. The defence forces of the US are well-known for their inter-Services disputes. In the case of UK, a consultant to the British Navy once remarked in the early eighties that the Royal Navy’s enemy number one during war was the then Soviet Union, but in peace it was the Royal Air Force!  

In India, sparring between the Army, Navy and Air Force on varied issues like budget allocation, accommodation, inter-Service precedence, command and control of missiles, control of helicopters and so on goes on all the time. It does not, however, affect their cooperation during war. Demands by one Service, which appear to transgress into the perceived territory or interests of another, evoke a strong reaction from the latter.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) often finds itself unable to take a decision in such disputes as its civilian bureaucrats lack the required military expertise. There is also no single individual or organisation in the country from which it can get unbiased advice. Cases therefore tend to linger on, giving the MoD the infamous tag of being the slowest in decision-making.

An example is the Army’s request in the late seventies for its own aviation branch, such as is available with most of the major armies in the world, including Pakistan. This was bitterly opposed by the Air Force because it felt that it transgressed into an area that it considered exclusively it own. Unable to resolve the issue, the MoD dithered on it for over a decade before the Army Aviation Corps was finally sanctioned.

The genesis of the current tussle over the allocation of the higher ranks proposed by the Committee headed by AV Singh lies in the decision by the Government in the early eighties to upgrade some of the ranks in the three Services. This was in response to the urgent request by the three Services for steps to improve the career prospects of its officers and men. Upgrading the ranks was a simplistic way of getting around a complex problem and it actually resulted not in the upgradation but the devaluation of ranks.

The Services reluctantly accepted the government’s decision after it ruled out all the other practicable options. Now, with stagnation having set in once again, the AV Singh Committee has recommended another dose of the same. Whatever be the problems this course of action has created, there is now no going back on it as the first part of the report pertaining to the junior ranks has already been implemented.

In the eighties, the appointments to be upgraded were selected independently by each Service without coordination with the other two. This resulted in distorting the existing parity in ranks and promotions between the three. While one Service upgraded a particular appointment, the equivalent appointment in the other Service was often not upgraded and continued to be held by the lower rank. For example, the appointment of an Instructor Class A in a joint training institution was upgraded to a Colonel by the Army but continued to be held by a Wing Commander (equivalent to a Lieutenant Colonel) of the Air Force, leading to needless heart burning and tension.

Parity in promotions was similarly affected. Officers with more Service seniority at times had to serve under junior officers but higher rank from another Service as promotions were faster in the latter. Similar situations also occurred in joint Services committees, where the presiding officer was sometimes junior in Service but higher in rank to some of the members. The ongoing controversy for allocation of a larger share of higher ranks by the three Services should be seen against this background.

The affected Services do not want such anomalies to be created once again or the previous ones to persist. Unions and associations are not permitted in the armed forces; nor are they allowed to agitate and put forward their demands. Even a joint letter of grievance signed by many is frowned upon and in extreme cases may even be regarded as an act of mutiny. There is no forum in which the armed forces can vent their grievances. It is for the seniors to fight for the interests and welfare of their subordinates. That is the culture of the armed forces.

In the issue in question, each Service has its own reasons for demanding additional ranks. The Army points out that it has the largest number of officers but proportionately the smallest number of higher ranks. It has also been involved in active operations from day one of Independence and continues to be deployed in the most difficult terrains away from their families. The Army has suffered maximum battle casualties and is even today facing bullets in anti-terrorist and counter-insurgency operations in J&K and the North East. Army officers feel de-motivated when they find that their counterparts in the other Services, who have been serving in far better conditions and perhaps never faced a bullet, are getting faster promotions.

The Navy and the Air Force want additional higher ranks on the basis of functional requirements-- with the emergence of India as a regional power in Asia there will be increasing importance of air and sea power. There is some force in this argument. The MoD finds itself unable to resolve the issue as it has little military expertise or knowledge about the inner working of the armed forces. It has therefore done what it always does when the three Services differ; it has asked them to find a mutually satisfactory solution. If they are unable to do so, then the MoD will be compelled to take a decision because the matter can not be left hanging for too long.

Much has been made of the fact that the armed forces, which are supposed to be disciplined, have not accepted the government’s decision outright. There is no question of indiscipline here. It is the duty of commanders at all levels to apprise the higher authorities of the adverse consequences of their directions and recommend suitable alternatives. In this case the three Services have submitted to the government their views on the proposal and their recommendations. Let the final decision be taken by the MoD. There is no doubt that the three Services will accept it without reservations and implement it in a disciplined manner.---INFA

 (Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)


Largest Navy War Game: OPINION DIVIDED ON INDO-US TIES:by Syed Ali Mujtaba Print E-mail


New Delhi, 3 September 2007

Largest Navy War Game


By Syed Ali Mujtaba

The largest-ever war game hosted by the Indian Navy, codenamed Malabar CY 07-2, kicked off in the Bay of Bengal from 4-9 September. However, this has stirred a hornet’s nest in the country. Opinions remain divided for and against New Delhi’s military engagement with the US.

Twenty-four warships from five countries are taking part in the Malabar series of naval exercises at 100 nautical miles west of the Andaman’s and 500 miles east of the Indian shores in the Bay of Bengal. The US will have major presence in the exercise with participation of its 13 warships including the nuclear powered submarine USS Chicago, and air carriers USS Nimitz and USS Kitty Hawk. Hopefully, erasing the memories of the USS Enterprise in the Bay of Bengal during the 1971 Indo-Pak conflict.

Nevertheless, in the run-up to the multi-national naval exercises things were not as smooth as they appeared to be. The Left parties geared up a major protest against them. Its criticism stems from the fact that any strategic pact with the United States would be fraught with dangerous implications. It is of the view that such an exercise would give the U.S. an opportunity to achieve its long-cherished hegemony in the Indian waters. Not only that it would serve Washington’s agenda to make India a military base for its operations in South-east Asia.

The Left brigade also thinks that the exercises are an attempt to co-opt India into the Israel-U.S. axis. It has cautioned New Delhi against becoming another pawn in the hands of ‘imperialist’ America and suspects that the experience the US gains from such an exercise could be passed on to Pakistan. To highlight the "dangerous implications" of the exercise in the Bay of Bengal and mobilize public opinion, the Left Front took out a mammoth procession in Kolkata on 1 September. The march coincided with Nazi Germany's unprovoked attack on Poland on this day in 1939 that sparked off the World War II.

Notwithstanding the Left’s protest against ‘Operation Malabar’, the Union Government made it clear that political positions had not been factored into its decision concerning the armed forces as the defence services is apolitical. In its view the exercises are not only strategically important to the country's defence but also in the interest of national security that the Indian navy engages with navies of the different countries across the world.

Moreover, according to New Delhi’s naval perspective it views the Bay of Bengal as its backyard where India has a crucial role to play in protecting the sea-lanes of communications via the Malacca Straits. Additionally it is conscious of the Chinese efforts to reach out to the Indian Ocean via Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

There is little doubt that Malabar CY 07-2 will be unique experience for the navies of India, US, Singapore, Australia and Japan that are participating in the five-day naval exercise This an air-defence exercise involves over 200 aircraft operating from both land and sea. The scenario being played out entailed operating combat ships in an air-dominated environment.

With close to 40 types of aircraft participating in the maneouvres, planners had worked out scenarios like dissimilar air combat, interception of shore-based aircraft and air defence of war ships towards the end of the exercise. A group of vessels are also playing out an anti-submarine operation to hunt the USS Chicago using air assets. The exercise also involves cross deck helicopter operations to develop inter-operability for disaster relief and rescue missions.

India's Naval Chief Admiral Suresh Mehta, has commented, "The Indian Navy stands to benefit a lot from this exercise. It is quite an experience for our sailors and officers as they get a chance to acquaint with the top of the line technology and weapons systems. If you have 40 different types of aircrafts operating... ships to go...get battle ready... it’s quite an experience… I don't think we can have such an environment with just one country,"

The Naval Chief clarified that the Indian navy in past had conducted similar exercises with the navies of US, Britain, France, Russia, Sri Lanka and China and such naval exercises had been extremely successful. “We have worked with the Chinese Navy in March this year. We did some work basically in the search and rescue aspects, the common thing we do to start with such exercises. And from there onwards, we graduate to major exercises," Mehta emphasized.

There is nothing unusual about ‘Malabar CY 07-2’ except the presence of the huge USIndia conducted similar exercise 'Milan 2003' (11-15 February 2003) a confluence meeting of the navies from the Indian Ocean countries. Warships and naval delegates from several nations (Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Singapore) participated in the event. contingent.

Be that as it may, the controversies fail to die down. Importantly, it is for the first time that the ‘Malabar CY 07-2’ has been planned in China’s backyard. The exercises, near the Andaman Islands, will be held close to China’s monitoring stations at Coco Islands and near the strategic Strait of Malacca. Up till now the Malabar series of the Indo-US exercises have always been conducted off the western coast of India.

Analysts view this development as a deliberate attempt to counter the Chinese efforts to reach out to the Indian Ocean via Maldives, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Wherein, India seems to have joined the quadrilateral security engagement of NATO between Australia, US and Japan in the ‘strategic encirclement’ of China. Not a few also opine that China is unlikely to take the exercise too well.

Notwithstanding the geo-strategic implication of the multi-lateral naval exercise on India- China relationship, the fact remains that the Malabar series exercises is an opportunity for the Indian navy to get battle hardy and remain in a state of alertness to meet any future challenges.

In the ultimate, the political motives attributed to an otherwise military exercise would be stifling the dynamism of our military capabilities. Perhaps the mascot of MILAN 2003 --- a dolphin --- symbolizing friendship and a desire for reaching out for peaceful co-existence in the seas sums up the purpose of such exercises. ---- INFA

(Copyright India News & Feature Alliance)







Operation Leech: DEFENCE MINISTRY EMBARRASSED,by Syed Ali Mujtaba, 27 August 2007 Print E-mail

Defence Notes

New Delhi, 27 August 2007

Operation Leech


By Syed Ali Mujtaba

The trial of the infamous 1998 ‘Operation Leech’ in the Kolkata court is turning out to be a public relations disaster for New Delhi vis-à-vis its ties with Yangon. That too at a crucial time when several big business deals with Myanmar's military junta hang in the  balance. ‘Operation Leech’ refers to the Indian intelligence’s sting operation on 8 February 1998 which resulted in the capture of 34 Myanmar nationals in Andaman’s Landfall Island.

According to the Defence Ministry, during a joint military exercise codenamed “Operation Leech”, the Indian security forces comprising the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guards, nabbed an “international gang of gun smugglers," allegedly supplying weapons to the Indian insurgent groups in the North-east who were waging a war against the country. The Ministry also claimed that a huge cache of arms and ammunition were seized from the gunrunners and six of them were killed during a fierce encounter.

 However, as the trial progresses it is now becoming clear that the "international gang of gun smugglers" were none other than the Karen National Union (KNU) and the National Unity Party of Arakan (NUPA) rebels who were fighting Myanmar’s military junta and were helped by India with arms and provided a safe sanctuary.

Moreover, according to the KNU and NUPA defendants, the Indian military and intelligence officials had been clandestinely supporting them for years offering them storage facilities for the arms procured from a third country to fight the military rule in Myanmar, even before ‘Operation Leech.’

In their plaint, the rebels have also claimed that they had traveled overnight from southern Thailand, where they had procured arms from unknown dealers, to India's Landfall Island for a scheduled rendezvous with the Indian military and intelligence officials. “The Indian army for some unknown reasons abruptly changed its plan and apprehended us on our arrival at Landfall Island,” the defendants allege.

While 28 members of KNU and NUPA were disarmed, shackled and held in different areas of the island, six NUPA leaders were whisked away to be killed in cold blood, they add. Not only that. The rebels were detained for nine years in legal limbo with no formal charges framed against them. They were even denied councilor access under detention.

However, due to pressure from a human rights group their trial was shifted from a Port Blair court in the Andaman-Nicobar archipelago to the City Sessions Court in Kolkata in December 2004. It was only on the orders of the Supreme Court in October 2006 that charges were framed against them under the Arms Act, the Explosive Substances Act and the Foreigners Act.

True, many of the details as to what transpired on Landfall Islands on 8 February 1998, are yet to become clear but the version of the events as narrated by the rebels seem to be gaining credibility. More so because the CBI was forced to drop one of the initial charges due to lack of evidence. The CBI had accused the rebels of attempting to wage war against India, which could not be substantiated.

A booklet titled “Why Are Burma’s Freedom Fighters Imprisoned in India” released by the Solidarity Committee of the Burmese Struggle for Democracy details the whole situation of the arrest of the rebels and questions the authenticity of the Indian defence establishment’s claim.

The booklet reveals that the rebels, who are members of the Arakan Army, the armed wing of NUPA and KNU, had a close relationship with the Indian defence establishment through an Indian military intelligence officer Colonel V. S “Gary” Grewal, who liaised with them. Grewal, who speaks Burmese fluently, had been in contact with the Arakan Army since 1997. Further, he was the conduit between the rebels and the Indian security forces which had provided the Arakan Army with logistic support.

According to records, the rebels arrived at Landfall Island in Nicobar on 8 February 1998, on an assurance by the Indian military intelligence allowing them to set up a base on the Island. The booklet also states that the Indian military went back on its so-called word as it had never planned to keep its promise and arrested their long-time friends.

Calling the betrayal “Operation Leech”, they killed six of the Arakan Army leaders in cold blood, it adds. It also alleged that Grewal, who had planned and carried out “Operation Leech”, betrayed the rebels, after taking thousands of dollars, at the behest of Myanmar’s military junta.

According to the rebels lawyer Siddharth Agarwal, his clients' defense is simple: "They were called to Landfall Island by the Indian authorities with the promise that they would be armed by the Indian Army in their quest for freedom against the military junta in Myanmar. The State prosecutors have reportedly failed to produce significant pieces of evidence requested by the defense, including the ammunition seized that evening,” asserts Agarwal.

He also complains that the Court allowed three military officials allegedly involved in the sting operation to testify via video link without allowing any cross-examinations by the defense.According to the witnesses’ testimony in the Court, they had never seen the six NUPA leaders and had heard the gunshots sound from a distance. However, the prosecution has denied the claims, insisting that the Indian military's only contact with either of the rebel groups was for the purpose of conducting the sting operation.

Alleges a PUCL lawyer monitoring the case very closely, “If the trial goes on in the right direction, the Indian military's contacts with the Burmese rebels will be revealed ... That's why they killed the six leaders. It was because they knew too much."

The revelations emerging from the ‘Operation Leech’ trial in Kolkata, clearly suggests, New Delhi's alleged link with the rebel groups in Myanmar. The Indian intelligence operatives in the late 1980s and early 1990s spent years cultivating ties with the rebel groups fighting Myanmar's military rule. They made several offers of logistical support to the Arakan and Chin insurgent groups operating in Myanmar's remote western border regions.

Significantly, ‘Operation Leech’ would have remained pretty much out of public view had it not been for the war of words between George Fernandes and former Naval Chief Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat in 1998. It was during this exchange of charges and counter-charges that a note dated 27 July 1998 came to light.

In the final analysis, it remains to be seen what impact the Court proceeding are likely to have on the India-Myanmar relationship once the charges levied against the rebels are formally demolished. ---- INFA

(Copyright India News and Feature Alliance)







<< Start < Previous 601 602 603 604 605 606 607 608 609 610 Next > End >>

Results 5428 - 5436 of 5504
  Mambo powered by Best-IT