Failure of intelligence mechanism, government lacked in disseminating info: Veterans on India-China border row
Pinning the fault with the political, civil and military establishments for the India-China border row leading to the 'deeply disturbing' Galwan Valley incident, a group of around 150 military veterans has put the blame on the intelligence mechanism for the episode while demanding a revamp of the system.
In a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the veterans also found the government lacking in properly disseminating information about the border row and the violent face-off that claimed 20 soldiers and allowing China to take advantage of "contradictions between ambiguous or inaccurate" remarks made by New Delhi, which needed clarifications.
The letter signed by 144 veterans, including Admiral L Ramdas and Lieutenants General Suresh Samarth, Narendra Aul and D Raghunath, also demanded that the government should immediately set up a fact-finding team to study the intrusions, incursions and encroachments by China in Aksai Chin, Depsang, Galwan and Pangong Tso and also elsewhere on the long borders up to Arunachal Pradesh in the east and table it in the Parliament.
"The incident at Galwan could only have happened because of failure at one or more levels in the political, civil and military establishments, especially in continuous intelligence acquisition and dissemination. While we accept that failures can happen in any system, in the current instance either our intelligence system was found wanting, or the intelligence which it obtained did not reach the field units in time. We therefore urge that our nation's intelligence system be urgently revamped," they said.
The veterans were of the view that the country urgently needed a stated national policy and strategy on neighbourhood management, especially on China and Pakistan, though successive governments have neglected this aspect so far.
"Having an overarching national policy and strategy will reduce casualties among our troops, which occur due to the heightened risk of being reactive to conflict situations created by China or Pakistan," they said.
The government should take "very early steps" towards concluding boundary agreements with all neighbours by employing all available diplomatic means and pressures, together with the power of India's membership position for 2021-22 in the UN Security Council. This, they said, does not in any manner imply reduction in deployment of armed forces or let-up in our intelligence systems.
The veterans also wanted a reversal of the existing practice of continuously deploying the Army for internal security and counter-insurgency duties at the cost of availability of troops for the primary role of defence of territorial sovereignty.
At the same time, large strength of the paramilitary forces are deployed in border areas in an essentially military role. This "anomalous reversal of roles" now demands rationalisation, they said.
The veterans also wanted more reliance on indigenous military hardware and software, especially for the command and control structure of the armed forces and intelligence services, and reduce dependence of foreign sources as it makes the country more vulnerable to cyber attack.
They batted for political solutions, saying that continuous deployment of the military can never be a long-term solution.