In an election rally, India’s PM Modi said that Congress has humiliated both General Thimayya and Field Marshal Cariappa. A fact that the Congress aligned sites and online video blogging sites have tried to argue against. Let us first begin with some facts from Kashmir War of 1948 and the Indo-China war of 1961.
How Nehru Betrayed India in 1948 and 1961 while insulting the Army
Kashmir War, 1948: There was a strange situation in India and Pakistan, where the Commander in Chiefs of both the Armies were British Generals. While the Indian Army head was General Roy Bucher, the Pakistan Army head was General Douglas Gracey. Nehru had differences with General Rob Lockhart, the first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian forces (predecessor of Gen. Bucher) and could have had someone like Lt Gen Cariappa take over, specially with an important war taking place. But he didn’t and let the British create further issues.
Interesting thing is that despite the denial by Pakistan that those who attacked Kashmir were just tribals. The fact is that the war from Pakistan was started and led by Col. Akbar Khan. Worse, even the British Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army, General Frank Messervy, was backing the whole effort. He had remarked to a visitor at that time as how unhappy he was at the “timid manner” in which the Pakistanis had “supported the raiders”. Further, he suggested the way this war by Pakistan could have been won decisively:
All it required was battalion in plain clothes – a battalion less two companies at Srinagar and two companies at Banihal pass and that would have been the end of the story. (“India’s Wars: A Military History, 1947-1971” by Arjun Subramaniam)
Neither Messervy, nor the other British Generals and certainly not Lord Mountbatten had imagined the bravery and courage of soldiers like Thimayya, Atma Singh, Pritham Singh, Usman, Mehar Singh, Moolgavkar and how the Indian army would beat the Pakistanis back.
When the 161 Brigade’s Brigadier Sen was constantly asking for reinforcements in November 1948, Mountbatten stalled the sending of the reinforcements. And, Nehru went along with that decision. The whole war and specifically the requirements of the Indian Army were handled very shabbily by Nehru and Mountbatten. Besides requests by Sen, the whole fight put up by Colonel Sher Jung Thapa in Skardu will forever be written in blood and glory in Indian Army anals. The Pakistanis had attacked Skardu on February 10, 1948 but the Indians beat them back. After that for 6 months, Col. Jung kept beating back attacks by Pakistanis with just 250 men along with him. He kept asking for reinforcements, but none arrived. After the most brave fight for a year, Skardu was finally won by Pakistanis because the Indian Government and the British Army leadership did not let the reinforcements in for those brave-hearts.
The utter foolishness of Nehru and the machinations of Mountbatten and the British Army brass cost most of Kashmir for India. As for Field Marshal Cariappa? He came out as a very popular person from the whole war effort. So fearful was Nehru because of FM Cariappa’s popularity that per Air Marshal K C Cariappa (Retd) – Field Marshal Cariappa’s son – in the biography of his father, Nehru anticipated a coup against him. Air Marshal Cariappa says in his father’s biography that because of that fear, Nehru packed the Field Marshal off to Australia in 1953 as India’s High Commissioner!
The book discusses a conversation between Nehru and the Field Marshal where Nehru discusses the reason for going to UN Security Council and it shows the amazing fool that Nehru really was!
A few years later, General Cariappa asked Nehru for the reason of the ceasefire. “You see the UN Security Council felt that if we go any further it may precipitate a war. So, in response to their request we agreed to a ceasefire,” Nehru said, adding: “Quite frankly, looking back, I think we should have given you ten or fifteen days more. Things would have been different then.”
If packing off Field Marshal to Australia and trying to mute him so he couldn’t speak up or use his popularity was not a way to put him “in his place”, I am not sure what would be? And, to get an idea of Nehru’s attitude, we need to go to another episode mentioned in Air Marshal Cariappa’s book, where the then General Cariappa cautioned Nehru that the Chinese were planning an attack on India. As usual Nehru was careless and cavalier – only to put India in danger within a decade.
The book notes that in 1951, there were disquieting events in the North-Eastern region when Chinese troops were caught with maps showing some parts of North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA) as part of China. Because the Army had no operational responsibility there, the region being under the Assam Rifles who were under the control of the Governor of Assam, General Cariappa asked Nehru for directions in regard to the responsibility of its defence. General Cariappa considered it his duty to caution the political leadership of the possibility of an attack in the region. He was ridiculed by Nehru with “it is not for the Army to decide who the nation’s likely enemies would be!”
The ridicule and “putting Army in its place” was the constant practice that Congress followed throughout the last 70 years! This episode takes us to the next war – the Indo-China war of 1961.
Indo-China War 1961: General Kodandera Subayya Thimayya became the 6th Chief of Indian Army on May 7, 1957. But even before Thimayya joined, Nehru was busy preparing for him because of his fear for the Army and the popularity of General Thimayya. Times of India ran an editorial saying ‘A thrill has just passed through the Army. The signal has gone out that Timmy is on.’ Just 20 days before General Thimayya was to join, Nehru brought in Krishna Menon, who would become the nemesis of the brave General.
Krishna Menon was known to be a communist and a drug addict who had very poor image in the world. CIA said this about him:
The potential for [communist] infiltration of the [Indian] armed forces is probably enhanced by the fact that Defense Minister V. K. Krishna Menon is a member of the extreme left wing of the Congress Party and has associated with known Communists and fellow travelers. He is highly ambitious and would probably cooperate with and accept support from any group which might enhance his prospects for becoming Prime Minister.”
Meanwhile, MI6 said of Menon – “a sick man whose relations with fellows can never be normal or happy” and “utterly unscrupulous…impairing the whole conduct of India’s foreign relations…”
This was the man who was brought in to reign in the General!
The initial interaction between General Thimayya and Nehru did not go well at all. The General rebuked Nehru for his irresponsible actions in North East.
Nehru was waiting for Thimayya and for the first time, the normally reticent Timmy exchanged angry words with the prime minister. He told Nehru that his arbitrary decision of making NEFA (North East Frontier Agency now called Arunachal Pradesh) the responsibility of the army, made public in Parliament, was preposterous and completely against Indian interests. Thimayya felt that Nehru had completely compromised the army.
Without providing the additional resources required, handing over the borders to the army was a meaningless gesture; this would allow the Chinese the opportunity to claim that the Indians were the aggressors, for they always went to great pains to describe their own troops as border guards. Thimayya asked Nehru to find a way out of the mess in the next couple of weeks.
When Krishna Menon met Nehru, they knew One, that General Thimayya was right and Second, that the threat of the General becoming overbearing was to be contained. Three days later Krishna Menon summoned Thimayya and reprimanded him for going over him to the PM directly and threatened him with “political repercussions”!
With foolishness having already taken India to the brink of war, Krishna Menon’s abrasive behavior was a bit too much for the General to take. He talked to his wife and gave in his resignation. On that afternoon of August 31, Nehru talked to General Thimayya and persuaded him to take his resignation back due to larger national interest and the ongoing heating up of situation with China. Sadly, when Nehru spoke in front of the Parliament, he not just informed the Parliament that he has made General Thimayya take back his resignation, but went on to humiliate and castigate him in front of the Indian representatives!
On 2 September 1959, the prime minister once again rose in Parliament to make a statement. He told the Lok Sabha that he had persuaded the chief to withdraw his resignation. He then went on to speak about the supremacy of the civilian authority over the military and then, had surprisingly, proceeded to castigate Thimayya, saying the issues that led to his resignation were ‘rather trivial and of no consequence’, and that they arose ‘from temperamental differences’. He then chided the chief and reproached him for ‘wanting to quit in the midst of the Sino-Indian border crisis’.
Meanwhile, the Chinese had already built a road linking Tibet and Sinkiang province of China. It was some interesting and creative sleuthing by one operative of the Indian High Commission to get the complete information on what was going on over in the China side regarding the use of the road.
An intelligence operative at the Indian High Commission in London who went by the name “Singh” seemed to know about Wignall’s permission from the Nepal government to climb Nalkankar (7,100m) and approached him to see if he could slip into Tibet and climb Gurla Mandhata (7728m). From that vantage point, it would have been easy to pick up information on any Chinese military activity.
From the account in his book, Spy on the Roof of the World, Wignall appears to have willingly agreed to be a spy. But he didn’t tell the rest of his team. As it turned out, the Chinese were right when they arrested the three expedition members on the slopes of Nalkankar for being on a spying mission. Wignall managed to gather information even during his detention about a strategic highway the Chinese were building towards western Tibet, and an estimate of the garrison strength at Taklakot. But this information didn’t do the Indians much good, since Nehru and Menon ignored it and were caught unawares when the Sino-Indian war erupted in 1962 during which large numbers of Indian soldiers, including Nepali Gorkhas, were killed in the icy mountains of Arunachal Pradesh and Askai Chin.
The Indian side knew of the road, the intentions of the Chinese and their build up much before the war. So why did that happen? Because Krishna Menon and Nehru not just had their priorities wrong, they were busy betraying the nation. Even when there was evidence, Krishna Menon told General Thimayya that he does not need to look there!
Finance Minister Morarji Desai angrily set out to get the facts about the Red road. Cross-questioning India’s Army Chief of Staff. Lieut. General K. S. Thimayya, he asked when he first knew about the road. In 1957, said the general, and he had offered proposals to safeguard the security of India, but they were turned down by the Defense Minister, lean, rancorous V. K. Krishna Menon. “Why?” asked Desai. “Because,” replied Thimayya, “he said that the enemy was on the other side [i.e., Pakistan], not on this side.”
While the Chinese were boldly occupying Indian territory, Krishna Menon was rising in the U.N. to champion the admission of Peking and to lead the fight against debating the Tibet tragedy. General Thimayya quarreled with Menon and threatened to leave the army. Nehru talked him out of it. With almost one voice, Indians demanded that Nehru defend India’s integrity, fire Defense Minister Krishna Menon and, above all, send troops to drive the Chinese invaders from Indian soil.
FM Cariappa and General Thimayya were Insulted
So, Nehru and his chosen hitman, Krishna Menon, did insult Cariappa and Thimayya in 1948 Kashmir war and in 1961 Indo-China War. The sequence of names that Modi used may have been mixed up, but he was right about the facts of how Congress treated these Generals. When the Congress spokesman, Randeep Surjewala tried to “counter” the facts from PM Modi, he was indulging in half-truths and fake narratives.
More importantly, Nehru betrayed India time and again, while being instrumental in dismembering and breaking India up with every mistake!