General VK Singh (Retd), former Chief of the Army Staff who is now presently the Minister of State for Road Transport & Highways talks to Shiv Kunal Verma, the author of 1962: The War That Wasn’t with reference to the interview conducted by journalist Karan Thapar (son of General PranThapar, who was the Army Chief in ’62) and Ajai Shukla, a former Army officer turned journalist with close political connections.
Have you seen the interview? It’s sweeping through Social Media and along with comments from another former Army officer, Pravin Sawhney, it’s painting a grim picture.
I’ve seen the transcripts and am aware of what these two and some others are saying. Frankly, I am absolutely shocked at the devious manner in which information is being put out by them. Neither Shukla nor Sawhney have a clue about the ground situation. They left the army decades ago… Sawhney from the Raj Bhavan in Punjab and Shukla from Nagrota to build on his family connections with the Gandhis. They are using the credibility their rank gives them to not only peddle lies, they are playing a very dangerous game where they want to create a fear syndrome in a bid to promote themselves.
By using and interpreting satellite images, the arguments being put forward are that we have lost a considerable amount of territory.
As I said its being very cleverly done. If you remember one of the first images put out by Shukla showed the Chinese sitting literally on the Galwan-Shyok junction, controlling the heights on the northern side of the Galwan Valley. Having got everyone’s attention, including a former Northern Army Commander long since retired, that annotated image quietly disappeared and new ones appeared showing the area of conflict around PP 14. This was a quantum shift backwards by nearly 8 to 10 km. By using satellite images and projecting their make belief fantasies based on their perception of the LAC, what they are trying to do is obvious to any trained eye.
I think you need to elaborate on this. Most people had no idea where the Galwan Valley was…
That there is a real threat from the Chinese build up there can be no doubt. They have been doing this for years, probing, looking for perceived weaknesses. That Communist China’s core ideology is expansionist there is no doubt. We are dealing with a powerful adversary here and frankly the Chinese are playing a game of chess. We have certain shortcomings but we are not push overs by any stretch of the imagination. Even in 1962, as you correctly point out in your book, we lost not to the Chinese but to ourselves.
As for the Galwan Valley, the Chinese have since 1962 controlled the major part of the Valley. The area under us, where we perceive the LAC to be, gives us control of the final few kilometres. There is a major camp where PLA troops have concentrated some 10 km behind the LAC on their side and they have made another camp ahead of that. We are not fools… disengagement is to calm things down and we know where our immediate strategic and tactical goals are. No reason for us to compromise on that. Shukla says no one has the guts to put his name on the new alignment… well, he can take it from me PP 14 is under our control and the Chinese do not have any direct observation of the Shyok Valley or the road. If that doesn’t satisfy him and his handlers, I do not know what will.
What about the other sectors? Pangong Tso, Hot Springs, the Depsang Valley… DBO… all throwbacks to 1962.
As you and I both know, the Chinese have been playing this game relentlessly. Doklam as you pointed out in the Sunday Guardian yesterday was also a classic case of the Army stepping in and blocking the Chinese as they tried to push the road further towards the tri-junction. The Eastern Army Commander at that time acted decisively and that was the end of that. This same lot created a huge hue and cry saying the Chinese had since done this and that and in the long run this and that had happened. It’s laughable, but if the Chinese have built a few structures there, good for us. It gives us clear targets for we are sitting on the heights.
The Chinese have pushed into what at best can be called the grey areas between their perception of the LAC and ours. We have already called their bluff and now negotiations will carry on to push them back. The Sumdrongor as the Chinese call it, the Sangduoluo, talks went on for seven years, but we stood our ground and got what we wanted. Give it time… I also do not want to get into specifics. This is not a cricket match where a ball by ball commentary has to be given.
Shukla in particular was involved in the Siachen sell out earlier. We were all quite appalled he along with the others was not arrested for what clearly amounted to treason. You had put in a formal complaint to the MHA at the time.
Not just MHA, but to the Press Council and to the Delhi Police as well. Mr Sushil Kumar Shinde was then the Home Minister… how could he act against some of their own? Shekhar Gupta was also one of the characters who had a price tag attached to his pen… ‘journalism of courage’ I think he called it. He was sitting on the Press Council, maybe even heading it. Look what these people did to the TSD among other things…
Look treason is treason… I think these cases should be looked at even now. Quite frankly the Siachen sell-out by itself is something that needs to be enquired into. From what I remember once they were exposed the facts were quite cut and dry. You give them a free rope this rubbish will carry on ad nauseam. It’s pretty obvious some one sitting somewhere is coordinating this entire exercise.
Why not give a regular update officially. I suggested that yesterday in my article in the Sunday Guardian.
Well, as a one-time thing since these chaps are hell bent on spreading panic, maybe. Briefings have a time and place and not because some ignoramuses are clamouring for it on behalf of their handlers. But I don’t see the Chinese telling us through any self-styled experts what their game plan is. The people in question here are all intelligent characters and they are doing what they are doing with their eyes wide open. The language and terms being used by Ajai Shukla is mirroring Chinese perceptions. The trouble is these guys are also hiding under the freedom accorded to the press under our constitution. As far as I am concerned, they are traitors… and I don’t use that word off the cuff or lightly! We can all see the frustration building up among certain political circles. These are tough times but the self-styled leaders of the opposition and the Chinese together need to create as many cracks to make the government of the day look vulnerable… in the case of the former they must remember the saying… don’t cut the nose to spite the face!