Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 19
India’s little known victory over China in 1967, which had a significant impact in the future course of events South Asia on Saturday, took the centre stage with a discussion on a recently published book, ‘Watershed 1967—India’s forgotten Victory Over China’ by Probal Dasgupta at the ongoing Military Literature Festival here.
The author spoke about the purpose of writing the book during the Doklam stand-off in 2017, when he realised that much of the ongoing discourse in India’s public domain was fixated around India’s 1962 debacle against China.
He said that It struck him as odd that India’s victory of 1967 over its arch rival had been buried and forgotten. Speaking about the China-Pakistan nexus in 1965, which forms the beginning of the book, he also discussed the involvement of the US Central Intelligence Agency and a think tank in Arlington, Virginia, which knew of a Sino-Pakistani plan to capture Kashmir alongside with making inroads into Sikkim that would to force India in to a defensive negotiating position resulting in taking Kashmir in exchange for Sikkim, then a protectorate state.
Former GOC-in-C, Western Command, Lt Gen KJ Singh, who had earlier commanded the Corps at Sikkim where the battles of 1967 had taken place, spoke of the nuances around these battles and the area.
Elucidating how the Chumbi valley presented a similar vulnerability to the Chinese like the narrow Siliguri corridor posed to India, he spole about Lt Gen Sagat Singh’s leadership and his leadership, including placement of artillery guns, ensured that a difficult situation could be salvaged and turned into India’s favour quickly. The artillery used at Nathu La changed the course of the battle.
He also raised senior leadership’s perplexing decision in 1965 to withdraw from Jelep La, which gave Chinese the psychological edge, even though India now occupies the heights around the pass and stressed the need for a deeper analysis of that decision. He added that decision making at the senior level needs to be bolder to turn critical, decisive moments in a battle to our advantage.
Lt Gen JS Cheema spoke about the happenings in the aftermath of 1967, wherein various geopolitical events rather than the battles of 1967, ensured that China didn’t interfere with India’s campaign in Bangladesh. He said that the victories of 1967 had swung the psychological advantage in India’s favour and also felt that the book rightly brought out the parallels between India’s actions in 1967 and similar boldness during the Sumdoring Chu standoff with China in 1987. He added that such alacrity and confidence were also witnessed during the 2017 Doklam stand-off.