Friday, May 28, 2010


The ghost of Kargil is not going to go away. At least not until all those, who have escaped and evaded the responsibility of the intrusions and the subsequent inept handling of the situation, are held accountable for their actions.

On the face of it Brig Devinder Singh's case in the AFT may appear to be one of an officer who wanted to get his ACRs set aside and Battle Performance Report/Corps After Action Report amended. But the decision of the AFT forced at least one person to come out and speak in the public for the first time on a TV channel. Lt Gen Krishan Pal, former GOC 15 Corps, a man who many think should have been sacked along with the then GOC 3 Infantry Division, Maj Gen VS Bidhwar, but who instead got a Uttam Yudh Seva Medal.

One could almost feel pity for Lt Gen Pal as he went around defending his doctored Battle Action Reportand ACRs on Brig Devinder. The venom was clear in the speech and all that was required to complete the picture of hatred was frothing on the lips, but alas, Lt Gen Krishan Pal did not oblige.

To say that the former GOC 15 Corps was unrepentent would be an understatement. He was virtually dismissive of the AFT. He contended that he had not been examined by the AFT. Apparently he was under the mistaken impression a court cannot come to a conclusion without examining a witness and that since he had not been examined or given a chance to speak in the court, he implied that he does not respect the verdict. The least the AFT can do is haul him for contempt. The maximum that the government can do is to prosecute him for damaging the reputation of the Army in vengeful pursuit of his own agenda against a lower formation commander serving under him.

This clique of Generals, who have tried to push their acts of ommissions and commissions under the carpet, must be exposed. These holy cows must be put out to pasture.

And in this context, the role of General VP Malik, too needs to be examined. He cannot get away by claiming that the case of Brig Devinder Singh is one of personal conflict between him and the Corps Commander. And then he also tries to downplay the question of the Brig getting a VSM instead of a gallantry award by saying that it was he, as the COAS, who intervened and got him a VSM.

If incompetent people, who let the intrusions take place under their watch can be awarded Uttam Yudh Seva Medals and Sarvottam Yudh Seva Medals, then it is quite clear what kind of interventions were taking place from the Chief's office. He may be right that the after action report of the Corps HQ was compiled after he retired, but he could not have been oblivious to the fact that the Corps Commander had a bee in his bonnet about Cdr, 70 Inf Bde. And since he was taking such a personal interest in the higher direction of war, why did he not intervene?

And lastly, if Gen Malik thinks that he can get away from the ghost of the Kargil war by sacking one Brigadier and court-martialling couple of Majors, then he is sadly mistaken.

The nation has a right to know who failed them and the nation will know that in due course of time. The victories of Kargil will not be dimimished in any way if those responsible for the failure are identified before the nation. The nation cannot turn a blind eye to the faults of the higher commanders just because they choose to dove tail their failure by citing the bravery of the junior officers and other ranks. The fog of war is lifting......after 11 long years. And soon, all will be clearly visible.

To quote Bob Dylan:

How many times can a man turn his head

And pretend that he just doesn't see

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind

The answer is blowing in the wind

Monday, May 3, 2010

When will 4 Horse remove this murderer's name from its regimental crest?

I decided to blog on the above heading after reading a book by Lt General SK Sinha of the 'supersession' fame. Though the topic has never been far from my mind but the resolve to write about it as renewed after reading "A Soldier Recalls". In his chapter "Supersession", Lt Gen Sinha recounts how Gen KV Krishna Rao, who was a great friend of his, broke the news of his supersession by Lt Gen Arun Vaidya, in the most impersonal manner. He goes on to write that after he conveyed his decision to the COAS to resign from the Army and after the COAS had made the usual noise made about not taking a rash decision, Lt Gen Sinha decided to carry on with the agenda items he had for discussion with the Chief.

One of these related to the removal of the name Hodson from the regimental crest of 4 Horse.

I quote verbatim from the passage in the book, "The last case I discussed with him that day was the regimental crest of 4 Horse. This unit was raised by Hodson, an officer with a tainted personal record who had murdered the two hapless Mughal princes of Delhi in 1857 in cold blood. After Independence the name of the unit changed from hodson's Horse to 4 Horse, and so had the shoulder titles worn in the regiment. But the word 'Hodson' continued to appear in the regimental crest. I got Krishna's approval to recommend a suitable change of crest. This had to be approved by the President. Although a decision to recommend this change was taken and duly recorded, mistaken loyalty for regimental traditions has managed to prevail and to this day the change has not been effected".

Now, this book was written way back in 1991, and to my knowledge, the change of regimental crest has still not taken place and the name of the murderer continues to adorn the crest. 4 Horse is not the only regiment to take pride in its traditions and there are several regiments which still carry on with the symbols of the past British victories over native Indian princely states. But none have the name of a murderer and a philanderer written on their regimental crest.

There is certainly no harm in perpetuating regimental traditions. There are several cavalry and infantry regiments in the Army which have taken part in active supression of 1857 war of Independence. But these are only spoke of in hushed whispers in this day and age and they do not adorn the cap badge of every rank and file. The least that the armoured corps brass can do is to get this anomaly corrected, which Lt Gen Sinha tried to do even on a day when his dream of heading the Indian Army lay in ruins.

Can we expect the Colonel of the Regiment of 4 Horse, whoever that noble soul is, to initiate a corrective action. Sadly, no. that would be too much to expect from him. Not because of any personal flaw of character, but because of a flaw in the system which will look at him with suspicion the moment he tries to do anything of the sort.

On another day, we will debate how long the Highland bugle will form part of the regimental crest of several of our infantry regiments. and when will Battle Honours like Seringapatnam, Bharatpore and Sobraon be consigned to the dustbin of history....far-far from the honourable place they enjoy in the list of regimental victories.

But as of now, let 4 Horse get rid of Hodson's ghost.