For the first time in her millennial history, India has been militarily invaded by China. Never before had the high Himalayas been pierced by an enemy army’s trucks and tanks, nor the deep silence of the snow-capped sentinel rudely disturbed by murderous mortars and shells. The shock to India has been all the greater, because the bloody assault was launched by the neighbor for whom India had done more than any other country during the past decade and whose Premier Chou-En-Lai had often embraced, with Simulated affection our Sate Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to the refrain of ‘Hindi-Ghini Bhai Bhai’. it proved to be the embrace of death. The refrain is heard no more, and Chinese perfidy has made mockery of the noble tenets of Pencha Sheel.
The Sino-Indian clash served to confirm the suspicion that China had grown power drunk because the boundary question was opened by the Chinese when they were strong enough to inflict their will upon India. Till then the Chinese refused to be drawn into discussion on the ground that the time for the negotiations was not ripe.
At this stage it will be well worth while to put on record the tracherons ‘modus operand!’ of the Chinese attack in the winter of 1962. On October 20, more than 20,000 Chinese soldiers, equipped with burp guns, stormed over the Thagla ridge in NEFA, and overpowered a 5,000 strong Indian brigade along the Kochilang river. Avoiding, where necessary, direct encounters with strongly ant-trenched Indian forces and engaging them in flints, they outflanked and encircled the Indian troop concentrations. Besides it was tragic that our military intelligence was incompetent, practically nonexistent. Our forces, therefore, themselves ill-clad, ill shod, and ill-equipped lacked accurate knowledge of the enemy’s strength and objectives;
The fast moving Chinese had, on the contrary, even learnt the exact wave-length on which the Indian army issued its commands. At the very moment of attack, the Chinese jammed the Indian Command transmitters, and on the same wave-length issued contradictory command, in Hindi, Urdu and Tamil. Indian commanders exasperated and demoralized, admitted that they had “not been taught that kind of warfare.” The perfidious Chinese trick spread confusion and chaos throughout our defence positions. After capturing the Tow Rang region, the Chinese army on November 18, 1962 launched a three-pronged drive on the Se La, Bomdi La and Chakoo sectors. As they encircled Bomdi La, they hit the rear of the Indian army a few miles north of the foothills at Chakoo. The shock to our troops was unimaginable and it well nigh frightened them out of their wits. There was no more fight left in them, and it is a matter for shame and sorrow that whereas thousands of Indian Jawans were taken prisoners, the Sino-Indian War of 1962 left not a single Chinese prisoner of War in Indian hands. It is worth noting besides, that in the farthest village they reached, the triumphant Chinese, as if to mock at India, stuck up a notice which read “From November 29 Chakoo was in our control. Today we vacate it. If necessary, we will come again.” Independent India’s military debacle and national humiliation was complete.
The Chinese army withdrew on November 21 imposing a ceasefire on its own terms which gave China effective control of 15,000 square miles of Indian territory, including the strategically important Aksai Chin road linking Sinkiang with Western Tibet as well as ail the strategic defences in NEFA, so vital to India’s eastern zone. To the shattering blow to India’s national honor and International prestige was added the grievous complication that Indian economy had been suddenly upset. China which dreams of domination over Asia as a preparatory step to the first power status in the world, knew very well that many Asian countries had closely and eagerly watching India’s socio-economic advance by democratic means, a serious challenge to China’s claim that progress could only come through communism.
Having consolidated its occupation of Indian territory the Chinese Government verily cocked a snook at the Colombo proposals. It is, however, noteworthy that some of the nations’ leaders who come to Delhi early in 1963 did not condemn China as an aggressor. One of them, the Egyptian Premier, Ali Sabry, stated on January 13 that “both India and China recognize their present conflict as a border dispute.”
He refused to consider that what India had suffered was at par with what had happened to his own country in 1956. It was obvious that the Colombo countries, as represented by their Governments were not exactly neutral, but were biased by the Victorians might of China no less than by the vicious anti-Indian propaganda of Peking. The pathetic irony of situation lay in the fact while India’s Government weakly accepted the Colombo proposals in toto and without any reservations, the Chinese Government has remained intransigent to this day.
China has furthered her position by astute moves on the polity-co diplomatic front as well. Her Government rushed through and signed a pact with Pakistan on March 2, 1963, whereby Pakistan was secured as a junior partner in the unholy alliance against India. For years Pakistan had been the trusted ally of the Western powers and a bulwark of their defence strategy in Asia. The new tangled Sino-Pakistan alliance has upset the old balance of power in the Himalayan region where not only India but also Russia and Afghanistan are vitally interested. As a result of the pact, Pakistan surrendered 12,000 squares miles of ill-gotten territory in Kashmir to China. The new 300 mile boundary line between Pakistan and China commences at the tri-junction of the frontiers of ‘Pakistan’ ‘China’ and ‘Afghanistan,’ and runs to the south eastern extremity of Karakoram pass.
We are deeply grateful to the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union, Canada, Australia, Yogoslavia and other friendly countries, for the aid rushed to us promptly and generously in the hour of need. India’s air-arm has been strengthened not only by the supply of modern fighters and equipment, but also by joint air exercises with USA-Commonwealth forces. Even so we must continue to steadily build up our military strength, and prepare the country materially and psychologically for a counter-offensive to drive the invader from our sacred soil”, in terms of the resolutions adopted unanimously and with acclamation on the 74th birthday of 4he late Late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on November 14, 1962. There can be no tow towing to China, no submission to an Asian neo-imperialist power, after recent liberation from the two centuries old yoke, of a European imperialist power. The Himalayas today are not a mere physical or geographical barrier : they are an ideological frontier between Democracy and Communism,
The explosion by China of a nuclear device on October 15, 1964, had added a new dimension to our thinking with regard to defence plans. The simultaneous forcible ouster, on the same date, of Nikita Khruschev from Soviet Premiership has-set people wondering whether the new masters of the Kremlin will strive for a rapprochement with China. There are no tangible signs so far of such a development, but it will be unwise to baulk upon a widening Sino-Soviet rift as a contributory factor to our national security. Government’s reaction to the Chinese atomic blast has been summed up in “we can, but we won’t make the bomb” policy.
Immediately after the aggression, India adopted various measures on emergency basis—defence, development, legislative, economics relief services, and people’s participation. The nation learnt bitter defence lessons from this humiliating defeat that, eternal vigilance is the price of liberty-defence awareness and constant alertness and military preparedness.
Recently, China seems to have revised her attitude and changed her colors. She has made gestures of friendliness by inviting delegations. But India should count ten before failing into the trap of the Chinese deception. There have been occasional interchanges of cultural, sports and educational delegations. China also participated in Pin Pong Tournament in India followed up by the visit of Chinese top-brass in India. Now Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi has just paid an official visit to China. Nevertheless, the general air that prevails is that of suspended hostilities.
The heart of our nation is sound. Only a strong, determined, courageous and dedicated leadership is needed. If that is forth-coming, then, under God, with hope and faith, the nation will match undaunted, and avenge our reverses, and will go on marching not only to victory in war, but also to a victorious peace.