Most military records of Bangladesh war missing?

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by A.V., May 9, 2010.

  1. A.V.

    A.V. New Member

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    NEW DELHI: The history of the 1971 India-Pakistan war will never be fully written. Most of the official records of the war that led to the liberation of Bangladesh have been destroyed.

    The destroyed files include those on the creation of the Mukti Bahini — the Bangladesh freedom fighters — all appreciation and assessments made by the army during the war period, the orders issued to fighting formations, and other sensitive operational details.

    Authoritative army sources said all records of the period, held at the Eastern Command in Kolkota, were destroyed immediately after the 1971 war. This has remained secret until now.

    According to at least two former chiefs of the Eastern Command and other senior army officers TOI spoke to, the destruction may have been deliberate.

    They say the destruction may have happened when Lt General Jagjit Singh Aurora, the Indian army’s commanding officer on the eastern front, headed the Eastern Command. If true, this would be at odds with Aurora’s image as the hero who led his men to victory and the Pakistan army’s surrender in Dhaka.

    The sensational fact that the files were missing became known only recently when the Eastern Command was searching for details of the Mukti Bahini camps in order to organize a reception for Bangladeshi veterans.

    The Indian Army had housed the freedom fighters in different camps across India, where army instructors trained them in warfare. Later, Mukti Bahini fighters were part of the operations led by the eastern command.

    A senior army source told TOI, “We were looking for the details of Mukti Bahini camps. We wanted to know where all were the camps, who were in charge etc. When those files were not available, the eastern army command launched a hunt for the records of the war. That is when we realized that the entire records are missing.’’

    Lt Gen (retd) JFR Jacob, who was chief of staff of the eastern command during the war and later its head, admitted the records were missing, when asked if this were true. ‘‘When I took over as Eastern Army commander in August 1974 I asked to see the records. I was told that they have been shredded,’’ he told TOI. He refused to discuss who ordered the destruction of the records.

    The army headquarters and various units of the army may have some records of the war, a senior army officer said.

    But the picture will never be complete, he said, adding that military records maintained at the nerve center of operations are crucial if one is ever to construct the full picture.
    The details are significant as this operation is one of the great success stories of Indian intelligence and the army.


    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...angladesh-war-missing/articleshow/5907855.cms
     
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  3. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    'Files would have revealed Army’s role'

    KOLKATA: Senior army officials, serving and retired, are not surprised that official records of the 1971 war have been destroyed, particularly those related to the creation of Mukti Bahini. The records would have revealed the involvement of the Indian Army in then East Pakistan much before the war had been officially declared in December 1971.

    "I am not aware that the records have been destroyed, I was just a captain then. But if it has been done, it must have been under instruction from the government,’’ says a retired lieutenant-general who has held a senior staff position in the Eastern Command headquarters. ‘‘It is an open secret that the Indian Army had gone inside Bangladesh much before the war had started officially. There is no reason for the army to preserve such records."

    A retired colonel of the artillery whose regiment was in Kanchrapara when the war broke out, too, says preservation of such records would have been an evidence of involvement of the Indian Army in organising Mukti Bahini even before official declaration of the war. "I was inside Bangladesh much before the war had started," he admits.

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...e-revealed-Armys-role/articleshow/5911093.cms
     
  4. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    Destruction of 1971 files criminal act, says CIC

    NEW DELHI: The government should move proactively to declassify documents to avoid the kind of disaster -- the destruction of the 1971 war records in the Kolkata-based Eastern Army Command -- that TOI reported on Sunday, said chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah.

    Reacting to the TOI report that the entire records of the 1971 war with Eastern Army Command were destroyed, Habibullah said the "law is quite clear" that all records "older than 20 years must be disclosed, except under specific circumstances". The destruction of records, unless it was permitted under law, was a criminal act, he pointed out. "There are rules allowing for destruction," but then details of those destructions must be available with the government, he said.

    Army sources said there were no written details specifying authorization for destroying the 1971 files.

    Kuldip Nayar, veteran journalist who is fighting an ongoing battle for disclosure of the Henderson Brooks report on India's debacle in the 1962 war with China, said a probe must be held into the entire episode. "We must know why were they destroyed, and for what purpose," he said.

    Nayar also suggested that the government must immediately seek Dhaka's assistance to reconstruct the entire story, and also draw on the records of veterans of the 1971 war. "It is a very important story," Nayar said.

    He said the government must also proactively disclose whatever records are available of the battles fought by India since 1947. "The government is unnecessarily sitting over papers, be it 1948, 1962, 1965 or the 1971 war," Nayar said. "Even the transfer of power (in 1947) papers are not available with the National Archives," he pointed out.

    Just the Prime Minister's Office alone is holding almost 30,000 files in its custody, many of them as old as India itself. Government departments across the board are reluctant to declassify files and move them to the archives.

    Excessive secrecy also helps vested interests within the departments to selectively destroy or distort files. The case of the 1971 war records in Kolkata may not be very different, many sources within the military are beginning to speculate.

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...criminal-act-says-CIC/articleshow/5914770.cms
     
  5. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    Now, no record of Navy sinking Pakistani submarine in 1971

    NEW DELHI: The sinking of Pakistani submarine Ghazi in the 1971 Indo-Pak war may have been one of the high points of India's first-ever emphatic military victory but there are no records available with naval authorities on how the much-celebrated feat was pulled off.

    As a debate rages over a TOI report on the destruction of all records of the 1971 Bangladesh war at the Eastern Army Command headquarters in Kolkata, it transpires that naval authorities also destroyed records of the sinking of Ghazi.

    The troubling finding has been thrown up by a trail of communications among the naval brass. Pakistani submarine PNS Ghazi, regarded as a major threat to India's plans to use its naval superiority, sank around midnight of December 3, 1971 off Visakhapatnam, killing all 92 on board in the initial days of the war between India and Pakistan. Indian Navy claims the submarine was destroyed by depth charges fired by its ship INS Rajput. Pakistani authorities say the submarine sank because of either an internal explosion or accidental blast of mines that the submarine itself was laying around Vizag harbour.

    According to a set of naval communications made available to TOI by sources familiar with the Ghazi sinking, senior officers and those writing the official history of Navy exchanged a host of letters admitting to the fact that crucial documents of Ghazi were missing.

    Immediately after Ghazi sank, Indian naval sailors had recovered several crucial documents and other items from the submarine, wreckage of which is still lying underwater off Vizag.

    On June 22, 1998, Rear Admiral K Mohanrao, then chief of staff of Visakhapatnam-based Eastern Naval Command, told Vice Admiral G M Hiranandani, who was writing the official history of Navy, "All-out efforts were made to locate historical artifacts of Ghazi from various offices and organizations of this headquarters. However, regretfully, I was unable to lay my hands on many of the documents that I personally saw during my previous tenure."

    Mohanrao went on to tell Hiranandani, "We are still continuing to search for old files and as and when they are located, I will send appropriate documents for your project." Mohanrao also refers to their inquiries with Commodore P S Bawa (retd), who worked with the Maritime Historical Society, to find out about the artifacts. Here also they drew a blank.

    What Mohanrao's letter does not disclose is the letter written by Bawa himself in 1980. On December 20, 1980, Bawa, then a commander with the Maritime Historical Society, said, "In Virbahu, to my horror I found that all Gazi papers and signals were destroyed this year. Nothing is now available there." He was writing after a visit to Virbahu, the submarine centre at Vizag, where the documents, signals and other artifacts recovered from Ghazi were stored. His letter (MHS/23) was addressed to Vice Admiral M P Awati, the then chief of personnel at the naval headquarters.

    Over the years, in the 1990s, as Vice Admiral Hiranandani sat down to write the official history of Navy, he made several efforts to get the Ghazi documents, records show. In one of his letters to the then chief of eastern naval command, Vice Admiral P S Das, he sought the track chart of the Ghazi, the official report of the diving operations on the Ghazi from December 1971 onwards and any other papers related to Ghazi. But none of it was available for the official historian of the Navy.

    A retired Navy officer who saw action in 1971 said the destruction of the Ghazi papers and those of Army in Kolkata are all fitting into a larger trend, many of them suspected about Indian war history, of deliberate falsification in many instances. It is high time the real history of those past actions were revealed. "We have enough heroes," he said. "In the fog of war, many myths and false heroes may have been created and many honest ones left unsung," he admitted.

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...ani-submarine-in-1971/articleshow/5919209.cms
     
  6. Oracle

    Oracle New Member

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    Why does India want to hide its war documents?

    India was not involved in genocide in Bangladesh for it to shred the papers related to the 1971 war. Their release could have been controlled, even delayed, but to destroy it was a crime, writes Mahesh Vijapurkar.

    It was the 1975-76 sports season and the Indian Army chief, Sam Manekshaw was down in Hyderabad to address a press conference on a sporting event. As a sports reporter, I was there at the Fatehmaidan Club in the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium.

    At lunch, when Sam Bahadur started circulating, with a shandy in his hand, I approached him for a brief conversation. I asked him how did the Bangladesh war go, and what the Mukti Bahini was and where did the Radio Betaarkendra operate from.

    He minced no words and in seven terse words, explained the extent of Indian involvement with the Mukti Bahini. The radio was operating, he said, out of a ship on the river Hoogly. Immediately after, he added for good measure, "You print that and I shall come after you; you'll be dead!"

    That was his way of saying it was off the record, I assumed. Several such off the record conversations take place between journalists and sources of information. He wanted to keep it that way but before I could have it clarified, I was elbowed out by another journalist who wanted to shoot the breeze with the hero.

    My impression at that moment was that Manekshaw did not want another ruckus in Parliament like the one he had triggered by an interview to a student-journalist of a New Delhi journalism school's tabloid laboratory paper. He had told the reporter that if he'd been the Pakistani general during the wars with Pakistan, Pakistan would have won. It was his way of explaining to the aspiring journalist that a thinking general with a strategy can win a war and that Pakistan had made some mistakes.

    That caught the fancy of newswires around the world for the United News of India picked up the story and spread it. The student became a celebrity but Manekshaw was in trouble.

    The MPs had taken it amiss and thought that India could be defeated, forgetting that Chinese had had the better of India earlier. They were appalled at the gall of an Indian general saying he could defeat India! That was why the assumption that he wanted to keep the conversation with me off the record.

    However, I managed a moment with Mankeshaw and asked him why he wanted it off the record. Didn't the Pakistanis know? He said, "They may know, but we just don't want to confirm it, do we?"

    Now all that becomes clear. The destruction of all war-related records on the Eastern border points to the fact that India was deeply involved in helping the Bangladeshis even before the war had actually started and the country was liberated. The freedom fighters there, in coloured lungis, had fought valiantly but they apparently had substantial help beyond the training camps.

    Those seven words, in the context of the revelations that documents were shred points to that. Not that the Pakistanis did not know what had happened. Perhaps the shredding of the documents was to ensure that there was no paper trail.

    Those seven terse words of the field marshal indicated that Indian help to Bangladesh was not confined merely to running training camps for the freedom fighters but went much beyond that. The dismemberment of Pakistan in that war was done with care, with lot of details worked out, a lot of preparatory work even before the first shot was fired on the Eastern Sector.

    Obviously, the field marshal was scarce inclined to put anything on record then. But history cannot be starved of facts relating to turning points in the sub-continent.

    Of course, there is the feeling in academic circles that Indian establishment is parsimonious with information even if relates to historic events and that valuable records are kept away from public scrutiny which would enable a country have a well-fleshed, documented history.

    Going by the media reports emanating from New Delhi, it points to a deliberate plan to starve even the archives of the documents. It was not as if India was involved in genocide in Bangladesh for it to have wanting to shred the papers. Their release could have been controlled, even delayed, but to destroy was a crime.

    And why should India fight shy of letting the world know its role in the sub-continent?

    Mahesh Vijapurkar

    http://news.rediff.com/column/2010/may/12/why-does-india-want-to-hide-its-war-documents.htm
     

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