By P.T. Bopanna
Was eminent journalist Shekhar Gupta (in picture) was being economical with truth when he said that prime minister Narendra Modi was parroting the RSS line on the reported bad treatment meted out to General K.S. Thimayya and Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa by prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
Prime Minister Modi who is currently campaigning in Karantaka in connection with the Assembly elections, had told a public meeting that Nehru had insulted the two generals hailing from Coorg (Kodagu) in Karnataka.
Even though prime minister Modi had got his facts mixed up, he was right in saying that prime minister Nehru had treated the Kodagu Generals badly.
The issue exploded on social media with many learned articles on the first Indo-Pakistan war after Independence over Kashmir. Among the articles, one of the best analysis was by reputed journalist Shekhar Gupta.
Regrettably Shekhar, who has now got himself identified with the liberal and secular camp, was economical with truth when he said: “Through the decades, a spiced up, hyper-nationalist version of this history was built: that the generals were always doing the right thing but the politicians came in the way. It goes like: if only Cariappa/Thimayya/Chaudhari/Manekshaw were given a free hand, there’d be no PoK.
“In the RSS versions it became something like: Cariappa/Thimayya/Chaudhari pleaded with the PM of the day, give me a little more time please. But the Gandhi-Nehrus got cold feet, or worse, were complicit with foreign powers.”
The writer of this article wishes to clarify that he is no fan of the RSS and the Sangh Parivar which is engaged in saffronising history. As a professional journalist, the writer wishes to correct the facts and put them in perspective.
It is quite possible that Shekhar Gupta, who is highly knowledgeable in defence matters, has not read the biography of Field Marshal Cariappa by his son Air Marshal K.C. Cariappa (Retd).
The Air Marshal recalls that his father was asked on many occasions why the Army did not evict the frontier tribesmen who had attacked India and were supported by the Pakistani Army and why it was decided to have the ceasefire line dividing the State.
The General used to reiterate that it was the Government that dictates policy. At the time, the Army had its ‘tail up’ and was confident of clearing most of Kashmir and re-investing Gilgit. But orders were received to ‘Cease fire at midnight on 31st December/1st January 1948-1949.’ The General said that the Army was very disappointed, but orders were orders.
A few years later, General Cariappa asked Nehru for the reason of the ceasefire. His reply was: “You see the United Nations Security Council felt that if we go any further it may precipitate a war. So, in response to their request we agreed to a ceasefire.” Nehru added: “Quite frankly, looking back, I think we should have given you ten or fifteen days more. Things would have been different then.”
Hope Shekhar amends his report suitably as it is very clear from the facts mentioned in the biography that Nehru was not happy with his decision on ceasefire.