Friday, May 28, 2010

AoA: What Happens To Lt Gen Kishan Pal?

I have never met Lt Gen Kishan Pal, Srinagar Corps Commander during the Kargil War, nor was I a journalist when the war was being fought. I was in college in the summer of 1999, and remember poring over superbly vivid war dispatches in The Indian Express, the Times and occasionally Statesman. I had no idea at the time that I would be a defence journalist, or a journalist at all. But I do remember being thoroughly swept by the utter detail in the reports that correspondents sent back from the front. And anyone who kept a close tab on developments couldn't possibly forget the coverage that was given to operations in Batalik. I met Brigadier Devinder Singh for the first time in March this year, and totally by chance. His case was to come up at the Armed Forces Tribunal just as the infamous Sukna episode was winding down. On Wednesday afternoon, when Headlines Today broke the news about his legal victory, all those reports about Batalik came flooding back. It seemed improbably, fantastic that one man's war against a system that appeared calibrated to fix him, was now told it had behaved in the most reprehensible way possible. It seemed outlandish, crazy, almost surreal. And believe me, it seemed so to the Brigadier as well. At least at first. When I spoke to him in March for the first time, he wasn't hopeful of anything substantial from the tribunal. "One hopes they will see my point of view, even though it has been a long time since the operations," he said to me, with a rueful smile, but every bit still the soldier.

Brigadier Devinder Singh may have won back some undeniable honour for himself and his formation, the 70 Brigade, but every correspondent that covered the war -- and those who followed it as closely as I did -- agree that the judgement has interminably complicated what the establishment would have best liked kept asleep. Brigadier Singh was superbly modest when he spoke to Headlines Today, suggesting that the verdict was specific to his case and did not necessarily call into question to veracity of the official history of the operations as a whole. I, and a lot of others, think it actually does.

That history is always someone's opinion has always been known. But this judgement has frighteningly proved how personal interpersonal prejudices and malafide intentions are totally, utterly, meaningfully a part of official records of events. How else could one explain the superimposition of a fictitious brigade headquarters, headed by one Brigadier Ashok Dugal, in the operations? The judgement is searing proof that the biases of men, the top commanders during the war, may have totally subverted any truth we may ever hope to learn about Kargil. Will that truth only reside in a clutch of journalists who visited the front and were able to see and record what they saw before the establishment could bend it out of shape in battle performance reports and official histories? It's a question worth pondering. No wonder all our most important official histories are still officially classified.

What about Lt Gen Kishan Pal, who has finally found guts -- a full 24 hours after the judgement came out -- to come out and deny that he fudged any reports or showed any bias. What happens to him? Should he be reprimanded? Should he receive a rap on the knuckles? Is a rap enough for letting his prejudices steal honour from a battle formation and commander that deserved much more than they got? Is there any procedure that will allow the country to bring this General to task, and complete the truth about what really happened, and how lies came to be told on official documents that will live forever in the treasure-chests of the nation? All questions worth thinking about. In my opinion, of course.

12 comments :

Anonymous said...

Whats with the AoA in the begining?

Anonymous said...

No need to go overboard and call it a failure of the Indian Army. It was a failure of the Generals. The night of the Generals. Let us not undermine the valour and grit of the Officers and men for whom "It was not to reason why - but to do and die".
Gens and many such seniors come at a dime a dozen in the army. Why? No more is the Army one where you had people like Col Bhowani Singh who joined only to Command his Palton. A Major or a Col was a respected man after retirement and if you made it to a Maj/Col you were rewarded for having joined the most non-lucrative career. Today, in the rat race one has to bend and compromise to clear each hurdle since reaching a respectable level when you retire is only when you sell youself or as the degardation progesses - your country. The immoral Gens use this to live like kings with their serfs. Very few make it by courage & character. This episode is an eye opener to the Nation. The Babus who feel they are extremely clever with their wily tricks of bringing down the status of the services and their pay by scaring the Polity of an army takeover are the biggest mischief makers and traitors. Kargil was a limited offensive. Imagine what would have happened if an all out war had taken place. With such Generals the enemy would have sliced through India despite the sacrifices of the young officers and men.
When a corrupt Babu pilfers and loots hundreds of Crores the Nation struggles on but when the Army recruits substandard officers who rise to become Generals the Nation is DOOMED.AND, you cant outsouce Gens when the war begins or else you will have Dantewada like gaffes in the battlefield.
Its high time the Nation wakes up and nudges and shoves the Polity to give the Army man his due status in the Govt heirachy and society to ensure that good men/women join the Armed forces.
Remeber that advertisement about "Kam Insurance lene ki Bimaari" (KILB)where the chap talks of the follies of taking an insurance with a cheap premium? Well, you don't invest in the Army and its a sure case of KILB.

Anonymous said...

Shiv,

Recently, retired naval officers admitted that, in 1971 war, PNS Ghazi was not sunk by Indian Naval vessels. Knowing this fact, we falsified the records and awarded top medals to people who had no hand in sinking that sub!

If possible please investigate the death of Lt.Manoj Kumar Pandey in the Kargil War. The IA's account of his cause of death are full of holes and resemble something straight out of a Hindi film. Incidents leading to his death simply don't add up.

nastypajamas said...

"Will that truth only reside in a clutch of journalists who visited the front and were able to see and record what they saw before the establishment could bend it out of shape in battle performance reports and official histories?"

dont you think you're overreacting?

Anonymous said...

Why would Lt. Gen Pal selectively single out one military official and risk his entire reputation and military career to obfuscate records of a war that was ultimately won - albeit with staggering military losses and a permanent dent to the Indian Military reputation of being prepared for any eventuality.

It is mind boggling and inexplicable. Was he doing it for personal goals or trying to suppress some uncomfortable truths - in which case he may have had the prior approval and blessings of his superiors.

It is not an opinion if facts are changed by courts and not the immediate superiors.

Brig Devinder Singh better come out with sane, reasonable and logical explanations that meet the test of public credence rather than partisan political tribunals. Till now we have been fed with only the single argument that he was a brilliant officer who predicted the Kargil episode and his submission was rejected by Gen. Pal - hence the rivalry.

It is only in India that such rivalries exist and can be rationalized.

There is no mistaking and ignoring the basic fact that Brig Singh belongs to the community of the PM and that the PMO may have taken personal interest in this case.

My personal experience would state categorically that this entire sham is another evolving chapter of a war that the public knows very little of - just like all the wars we have fought.

Please God - our sympathies with Lt. Gen Pal and his family during this time of extreme distress. I wish him well.

the terminator said...

Dear Shiv,
It is only appropriate to call a spade a spade, even if he is from the higher echlon of the Indian Army.

Giving credit and battle honours to a non-existant brigade just to spite a gallant officer and his brigade is outlandish and immoral to say the least.

Hope this is an exception rather than the norm when ego manifests and rears its ugly head in decision making.

Lt.Gen Bharadwaj best known for his anti-Arjun saga is another moron like Lt. Gen Kishan Pal who think of themselves and their thought process as indispensible to the Indian Armed forces.

They should be exposed for what they should be made to answer for their perverted decisions. If this sort of cancer is not nipped in the bud, it will take root and cause untold damage to the morale and dignity of the Indian Armed Forces.

Shubhs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

What if there is bigger smoke in the MMRCA deal. Wait and watch in the AFT as an exciting battle starts. This would be the mother of all sandals.

Anonymous said...

This is how egotists in the armed forces treat their own people..you can imagine how they treat those working for them in the "inferior" support organizations like HAL etc...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said... 9:48 PMyou can imagine how they treat those working for them in the "inferior" support organizations like HAL etc...
I luv these guys who pop in all military discussions and discuss how they were raped. In fact they should read human social behavioural psychology where their class is described well. Like the CPO/PMF who were made to talk of their exploits like the army to get pay like the army. Now the same chaps want the army to be called in. In fact imagine how a test pilot with bags of experience gets treated by the inferiority complexed people in HAL.
So lets not bring in this cry of rape when the topic is different. Or let us divert to what s**t you guys dump on the Armed forces just because you are the high & mighty govt sons-in-law. Compete with the corporates- do well and then talk of inferiority. Ghar jamais gettinmg well fed should not complain.

Anonymous said...

There are some facts that have been mixed up in the entire issue.
First is the assessment by the Corps Commander of Devinder Singh. The Corps Commander had been consistent in his evaluation of this officer and in his opinion the officer was not a performer. The Corps Commander after him(2000 Annual Confidential Report) and the Senior Reviewing officer had also assessed Devinder Singh and had not given him a good report. The Army Tribunal has not expunged all the reports of this officer. In fact this officer has got so many reports which were expunged at various times but he was still not found fit for promotion. In India there is an acceptance of non performers and if one comes down hard on non performers even the media sympathise with such people.
The second issue is that though he was the Brigade commander but during the crucial and critical hours of operation in Batalik he was not present. The fact is that Brigadier Duggal was present in the sector where crucial operations were carried out. Why would some other officer need to be there-naturally because the Corps Commander did not have any confidence Devinder Singh.
The Indian army has a method of keeping and recording all details and these are verifiable records.
He was never recommended for any award either by his div commander/corps commander/army commander. Who recommended him for the award?

Anonymous said...

Guess what copy paste can do and deny everything and say, say what we are proud we did a shameful act.

Yet deny , we didn't do it so don't blame us.

http://zuhayer.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/kargil-war-1999/