As it should
1965 was a long time ago. The surviving members of that generation are very old men. The Indian military and intelligence establishment has more recent, and hence more important, moles to investigate. Hauling up a nonagenarian retired general and making him confess to a treasonous crime committed half-a-century ago appears like a superfluous exercise. But it is not.
Crimes committed cannot be simply swept under the carpet because they are simply too remote. The cause of justice demands that they be called into account, tried according to the merits of their case, and punished accordingly. Sometimes, especially in cases like this, trial and the ensuing reputational damage is punishment enough. The Indian Army has a record of demonstrating that as an institution it is serious about seeking out and punishing the bad apples in its midst. The alacrity with which army chief Gen J J Singh, convened a top-level meeting to go through Gohar Ayub Khan’s fantastic claims is both commendable and expected.
In the end, the Indian army’s investigation may find evidence of wrongdoing, in which case, it is unlikely that the guilty will go unpunished. But here too is a reason for Mr Gohar Ayub Khan to refrain from any further grandstanding — an enquiry or an investigation into the Army’s own would be inconcievable in Pakistan.
The Indian media is on the case too: Official records show that between 1947 and 1965, the Directorate of Military Operations was headed only by Brigadier-level officers: Brigadier (now Field Marshal) Sam Manekshaw, G G Bewoor (retired as Army Chief), D C Noronha (retired as Major General), D K Palit (retired as Major General), N C Rawlley (retired as Lt General), Narinder Singh (retired as Major General).
Rawlley and Narinder Singh headed the MO after the 1962 India-China conflict and during the build-up to 1965 operations.
Of these former DMOs, only Manekshaw, Palit and Narinder Singh were then Brigadiers and are around. The Indian Express contacted each:
- Field Marshal Manekshaw: â€˜â€˜I know nothing about this. I read about it this morning. I was with the Eastern Command in Calcutta during the 1965 operations, and so was nowhere near all of this. How come the name of this Brigadier has not come out? That is what I would like to know.â€
- Major General Palit: He declined to comment but said that he was DMO from 1961-64. â€˜â€˜I do not want to speak now,â€™â€™ he said.
- Major General (Retd) Narinder Singh: Speaking from Chandigarh: â€˜â€˜My wife is illiterate… she can sign only in Gurmukhi … she was not social and we do not even know how to make cans of jams.â€™â€™
The Acorn’s advice: For his own safety, Mr Gohar Ayub Khan would do well to stay away from Mrs Narinder Singh.