More than 50 years after the fact, the Indian government’s official account of what happened in 1962 that led to a humiliating defeat against China over disputed border territories remains classified. In recent days, the 1962 report has come under scrutiny after Neville Maxwell, an Australian journalist and Delhi correspondent for the Times of London posted 126 pages of the report on his personal website, only to have it taken down briefly afterwards. The report, known as the Henderson Brooks-Bhagat report, remains the subject of much curiosity within India’s strategic community and historians for what many expect to be a scathing indictment of the intelligence failures and political miscalculations of India’s Congress-led government leading up to the war.
The report was written by two officers in the Indian Army: Lieutenant General Henderson Brooks and Brigadier General Premindra Singh Bhagat. Incumbent defense minister A.K. Antony once told Parliament that the report could not be declassified because its contents are “not only extremely sensitive but are of current operational value.” Indian news outlets have responded with calls for greater transparency on the part of the government, arguing that declassifying the report will allow for a review of past mistakes.
According to Maxwell’s account of the report, the Indian government’s forward policy provoked China into using force against India — something that Nehru and other Indian leaders did not anticipate due to their reliance on outdated intelligence leading up to the start of the conflict.
Despite the report no longer being available on Maxwell’s site, Indian Defense Review has hosted a copy for now. The second half of the report remains unavailable currently. The Indian Ministry of Defense still maintains that the report is classified top secret. Look for more detailed analysis of the report from The Diplomat in the days ahead.