This morning I found that B. Raman, in his post on rediff.com criticized me for criticizing him in an NDTV interview. I posted a short and factual response in the discussion forum. But it was not posted by rediff through the day. I then sent a longer note to a rediff correspondent I know, but several hours later, there is still no response. Since internet issues usually work out within a matter of hours and not days, I have decided to post Raman’s comment and my response here.
Raman’s reference to me: “The other comment, which has amazed me, relates to my mention of an alert received from a mole of the R&AW in Yahya Khan's office regarding a pre-emptive air strike planned by the Pakistan Air Force on the forward air bases in the Western sector. An anchor of NDTV said this air strike was meant to divert attention from the fighting in the Eastern Sector. Manoj Joshi, the journalist, pooh-poohed my statement and said when the Indian Army entered East Pakistan it was expected that the PAF would make a diversionary air strike in the West. According to him, a general alert was, therefore, sounded. He implied that the R&AW was trying to take credit for this.
Well Mr Anchor, well Mr Joshi, you apparently do not remember or know how the 1971 war started. In 1967, the Israeli Air Force had launched pre-emptive air strikes on the Egyptian Air Force planes parked in its Air Force bases and destroyed them on the ground. Then, the Israeli Army went into action. The Egyptian Army had to fight without air cover. It surrendered.
The Pakistanis studied what the Israeli Air Force had done and decided to emulate it. Their calculation was that if they destroyed a large number of IAF planes on the ground, it could affect the operations of the Indian Army in the East by damaging the air cover available to it. The R&AW got advance intimation of this plan and the IAF was alerted. The intended pre-emptive air strike failed. Indira Gandhi, who was then in West Bengal, flew back to
Mr Joshi asked: If it is true that the R&AW had a mole as claimed by me, why the mole did not give information about Pakistani plans in the
The information that the R&AW got advance intelligence about the planned pre-emptive strike was known for over 30 years and acknowledged by Indira Gandhi herself. I had referred to this in my past writings too. All I have done in the book is to identify for the first time the R&AW officer who raised this source and got the information through him so that there is public knowledge of the role played by him.”Read the whole post here
"Mr. Raman should, as a writer, take criticism and commentary on his book in his stride. Since he has decided not to, and mentioned me by name, I would like to make certain points.
Mr Raman's contention that there was information on December 1 that strikes could occur in the coming days is correct. But to attribute it to a mole in the Pakistani headquarters is perhaps to exaggerate the R&AW's prowess.
Since all Pakistani strategic military intelligence was the R&AW's responsibility, it should, if this mole existed, have given us forewarning of Pakistani military plans such as the surprise attack on Punch that came close to success, the attack on Chamb which succeeded (leading to the loss of considerable territory) and the plan to capture Jaisalmer airfield which blundered into Longewala and was stopped by chance. They should have told us about the defensive minefields in Shakargarh that brought our offensive to a premature halt.
R&AW failed to provide information on the location of the Pakistani GHQ reserve -- 1 armoured and 7 infantry division. The result is that powerful counterpart forces of our own -- 1 armoured and 14 infantry division-- sat out the war, trying to figure out what the other side was up to. Having an accurate order of battle(orbat) of the adversary is the essence of military intelligence and plays a key role in success or failure.
(Please note, that in 1999, R&AW failed to provide an accurate orbat for the Northern Light Infantry, a fact that was adversely commented on by the Kargil Review Report.)
This is not to belittle the organisation's role in aiding and training the Bangla guerillas in 1971, but to put things in perspective.
I'm not sure what point Mr. Raman is making by detailing what was called the Coomar Narain case involving the French military attache. The case was extensively covered by the media and tried by the courts. Mr. Alexander was compelled to leave office because of it. But most people believe that it actually aimed at obtaining commercial intelligence on arms deals. If you notice, all of the guilty were were class II or III officers, rather than some top PMO officials and ministers.