September 27, 2022

Capitulating to China – Part 2

Lt Gen Prakash Katoch

Beginning his tenure as Defence Minister, Arun Jaitley came to the Ministry of Defence barely for 20-30 minutes because of ill health and since he was also Finance Minister. First time the same person held both these two portfolios. But Jaitley was forthright to say promises made during elections need not be kept. Nirmala Sitharaman (dubbed nightingale/bulbul for her histrionics) went all out to capture defence land and help elevate CAPF above the military in addition to many similar achievements. 

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s biggest achievement is the debacle in Ladakh. He also supported the rhetoric about defence pensions without touching large expenditure on civilian-defence employees and massive expenditure on other defence-related entities, not to talk of other government services; to push through the Agnipath system, unconcerned it would adversely impact combat capability at the cutting edge (https://www.financialexpress.com/defence/agnipath-after-the-tour-of-duty/2591504/). Despite manpower deficiency, Army is now told to reduce manpower by 2,00,000 (http://www.indiandefencereview.com/news/rightsizing-the-army/). In between Rajnath lets of churlas, like “taking steps to speed up AFTs delivery of justice” when with a sanction of 17 benches in 11 locations across India, the AFT operates just four benches in three locations – and this man, defence minister since May 2019, is not  bothered one bit. 

To add to the continuing military degradation, the Army’s Demonetization (Phase 1) was made public on August 15, 2022 – gift for Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, in that, the lead role along the 3,488 km LAC is being given to the ITBP. The cliché “government is planning to” is a misnomer. It is already underway, perhaps also conveyed to China and will likely to be sealed during the meeting of PM Modi and President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the SCO summit in November this year.

The logic given is to avoid future clash with PLA, which according to a veteran Vice Chief of Army Staff boils down our DNA: no stomach to fight for our interests; think only of ourselves and our tenures – the future can go to hell, and; Army will not be able to visit the LAC and if it has to be done, it will be ITBP uniform like the IB did in the good old days.

The logic given is to avoid future clash with PLA, which according to a veteran Vice Chief of Army Staff boils down our DNA: no stomach to fight for our interests; think only of ourselves and our tenures – the future can go to hell, and; Army will not be able to visit the LAC and if it has to be done, it will be ITBP uniform like the IB did in the good old days

Years back when news emerged of sending special troops to Afghanistan, a three-star veteran met NSA Ajit Doval recommending Army’s Special Forces be sent and if need be in ITBP uniform. But James Pond responded by saying, “My ITBP boys are as good.”

General V P Malik, former Chief of Army Staff tweeted: “An illogical, dumb idea. When adversary looks to surprise us on LAC, we want to place army behind ITBP in second tier. First tier controlled by MHA and second by MoD! Have we forgotten how two years ago PLA was diverted from exercise deployment to intrude across LAC?” A former Eastern Army Commander wrote: “Giving Police the front responsibility in the present scenario is like a ‘walk over’ in a football match to PLA. This ‘Policiaah’ is turning out to be having the same DNA as Nehru in early ’50s.”

Both the Kargil Review Committee (KRC) headed by K Subrahmanyam (father of EAM Jaishankar) and the follow up Group of Ministers (GoP) headed by then Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, had recommended that CAPF could be deployed on the border to assist the Army but must be placed under command of the Army. The latter was never implemented because the deep state consistently plays police forces against the Army. Rajnath was earlier Home Minister but never took up placing the ITBP in Ladakh under the Army even after the 2020 Chinese aggression.

A former GOC who commanded a Division in Eastern Ladakh says, “I saw the lackadaisical approach of ITBP when they were deployed at DBO as per the orders of higher formation. I had no authority to put regular Army troops there. On the lighter side, the Army can now easily downsize for ceremonials, bringing out children stuck in bore-wells, flood relief, disaster relief and other work to save the problem of the bureaucrats and police forces. No CDS is required. After all Nehru too thought like this, only if Chou en Lai had played ball. Are we thinking with the same mindset again? I personally don’t trust Pakistan and China and I cannot understand how the government can take such vital security related decisions without consulting the military.

“An illogical, dumb idea. When adversary looks to surprise us on LAC, we want to place army behind ITBP in second tier. First tier controlled by MHA and second by MoD! Have we forgotten how two years ago PLA was diverted from exercise deployment to intrude across LAC?” A former Eastern Army Commander wrote: “Giving Police the front responsibility in the present scenario is like a ‘walk over’ in a football match to PLA. This ‘Policiaah’ is turning out to be having the same DNA as Nehru in early ’50s”

-Former Chief of Army Staff General V P Malik

For a long time the MHA wanted Assam Rifles (AR) manning the 1,643 km long India-Myanmar border to be replaced by the BSF but in 2015 government decided that as an “interim arrangement” AR should continue because the BSF projected additional 42,000 men would need to be recruited. MHA wanted the BSF to take control because of the thousands of crores worth narcotics, weapons and Chinese goods smuggled through this “porous” border. The Centre blames the West Bengal government for cattle smuggling and infiltration through the Bangladesh border which is manned by BSF directly under MHA.

About five years back India Today (English news channel) showed Bangladeshi infiltrators’ coming through a gap in the fencing in full view of a BSF fellow who obviously was under orders not to interfere. There is money fixed for everything and the cut goes up to MHA. That is why the senior ranks in CAPF whether ITBP, CRPF or BSF are all held by IPS officers. In Pakistan, it is the Army that controls the nation, in India it is the bureaucracy. The IPS must be taken on board because they man the intelligence agencies and are privy to all skeletons.

The slogan “minimum government, maximum governance” has been replaced with “if you cannot fight them, join them”. The bureaucratic empire continues to expend. The Union Home Secretary just got his third extension, the Cabinet Secretary is on second extension and the Defence Secretary is on first extension. These blokes along with some IPS will probably fight future elections on BJP tickets or get gubernatorial posts. 

DG ITBP Sanjay Arora, an IPS officer who has been appointed Delhi Police Commissioner, is euphoric over the already expanding ITBP and the decision to handover the LAC to ITBP. He claims there are “enough resources” to raise another 16 ITBP battalions within four-five years. The “enough resources” obviously include the Agniveers going out after four-years military service. The aim is to make Army the training ground for the CAPF. Nehru only said “scrap the Army” but the BJP is actually implementing it. Politicisation of the military was initiated with the first CDS so that the military hierarchy does not raise any issues – if anyone does, he goes home.

The Phase 2 of Army’s Demonetisation would be the BSF taking over the Indo-Myanmar border with Agniveers trained by the Army and AR reverting to also operational control of the MHA. With international borders under MHA, smuggling operations can be overseen by the IAS-IPS. This will generate so much money that there would be no need to look for foreign funds for elections and foreign diktats that who should be both the finance-cum-defence minister – as it happened in 2014. In fact there would be enough money to buy out all politicians pan India, which in turn would root out political corruption; because anyone joining the ruling party implies he/she has done Ganga Snan. So, happiness will prevail all around – Billa Bhi Khush Aur Ranga Bhi. Loan waivers and tax rebates to the corporate in exchange for funding elections could possibly also be reduced– so Bulbul Bhi Khush.

Public attention is being diverted from national security issues through repeated hammering of ‘Hindutva’. No doubt building the Ram Temple and developing pilgrim circuits is but deliberate polarisation for electoral gains should be viewed in the following backdrop:

  • Tablighi Jamaat, whose membership is open to Pakistani military officers and links with Jem, Huji and HuM, was permitted to congregate in Delhi’s Nizamuddin Markaz Mosque in early March 2020 immediately after a similar event in Pakistan. Orders were issued for the arrest of Saad Kandhalvi who gave a virtual call to defy lockdown. Not only was he not arrested, NSA Doval went in the dead of the night to meet him personally, aside from permitting e-visas for Jamaat members to enter India. According to Farhan Zahid, Pakistani counter-terrorist specialist, Tablighi Jamaat acts as the nursery for indoctrinating Islamist terrorists, allowing radical elements worldwide to discuss and coordinate violent activities.
  • The Popular Front of India (PFI) has been in news periodically in recent years for anti-India, subversive and violent activities, latest being for manufactured family trees and fake Aadhar cards. But still the government refuses to blacklist this organisation because of vote-bank politics.
  • Despite the hue and cry, virtually nothing is being done to integrate the education system of religion-backed educational establishments into the national system.
  • Shah Faesal, who resigned from the IAS in 2019, was stopped at the IGI airport going to Turkey for organising radical activities in conjunction Turkey-Pakistan and later floated a political party, has been taken back in the IAS and is in the process of being Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Culture?

It is more than evident that for politicians, votes and money precedes everything else – damn institutions and damn the nation.

In between is the bastardised version of “Mutt and Jeff”. For example, Union Minister Hardeep Puri tweeted on August 17: “India has always welcomed those who have sought refuge in the country. In a landmark decision all #Rohingya #Refugees will be shifted to EWS flats in Bakkarwala area of Delhi. They will be provided basic amenities, UNHCR IDs & round-the-clock @DelhiPolice protection.” Puri is not a run-off-the-mill politician to tweet this without being told to do so. But it set the tail of Amit Shah afire who had called Rohingyas “critters”.  

Then we witness the release of the Bilkis Bano rapists who first killed a child by smashing his head against the wall and then took turns to rape the women in the family. And you have a MLA with the brain in his rectum garlanding and praising these “Brahmin” rapists.

A veteran scholar says, “BJP has more idiots than all other political parties put together. Most are uncouth and half educated. Gurcharan Das aptly writes, “India is a story of private success and public failure. India has risen from below, through the energy and ingenuity of its people, almost despite the state. It is quite unlike the top-down success of East Asian countries, which was steered skillfully by the state. Unless India fixes its governance institutions, it will not become a developed country.” 

More in Part 3 (concluding).

The author is an Indian Army veteran. Views expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of https://strategicaffairsindia.in

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