Delhi Jammu and Kashmir The Buzz

Allow access to war histories: NN Vohra

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 18

Former Governor of Jammu and Kashmir NN Vohra on Friday made a strong pitch to make public histories of the wars fought by the Indian armed forces, saying reading these would help the younger generation of soldiers.

Vohra, a former Punjab cadre IAS officer who was the Defence Secretary from March 1990 to April 1993, was speaking at the inaugural session of the 4th Military Literature Festival. The annual event was conducted virtually from Chandigarh this year.

Narrating an anecdote, Vohra said in the late 1980s when Lt General Harbaksh Singh, the former Western Army Commander, wrote a book on the 1965 war, the first instinct was how to stop his pension. “The opinion was — how dare he write on the war without prior permission!” said Vohra. Certain maps of the western border were used in the book, which meant he should have sought permission.

But things have changed, said Vohra as he went on to commend the plethora of writings in newspapers and journals, saying these showed commendable insight of officers of the services.

Vohra said, “We had unfortunately not allowed access to documents by being secretive and confidential.” He gave the example of his three-year tenure as Defence Secretary, saying, “We finalised the military histories of the wars fought in 1948, 1962, 1965 and 1971. But when we tried to get these published, there was enormous opposition and the plan had to be abandoned.”

The younger generation would not benefit if the experiences of war and combat were not recorded well in time and made available to the cadets in military academies or at places like the National Defence College.

The nation, he said, had been guilty of not allowing certain reports like the one by Henderson Brookes on the 1962 India-China war to be made available. These could at least be used in the military for learning. He suggested that after 30 years, a document could be made available in an archival repository and scholars be allowed to go and examine those with prior permission. This could be done in case the document could not be put in public domain.

Talking of the future, he said, “We need thinking generals, admirals and air chief marshals as the wars of tomorrow will be different from the wars of yesterday. We have reached a stage where senior military echelons need to understand the situation not just within the country, but across the world.”

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who was also present at the virtual session, commended the forces for the 1971 war victory, saying the country was celebrating its golden jubilee.

He lavished praise on the experience of the veterans, asking the young people to learn from retired soldiers instead of playing ‘war linked’ games on mobile phones. “The veterans are like living institutions,” he said.

Rajnath asked the organisers to devote the next year’s theme to cyber war and tackling misinformation campaigns. “The enemy can reach our people through mobile phones,” he said.

The Governor of Punjab and the Administrator of Chandigarh, VP Singh Badnore, said the festival was unique in its fabric. Chandigarh, he said, was the most appropriate venue to conduct the festival.

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Delhi The Buzz

PIL in SC demands action on 1993 Vohra Committee report

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 20

A BJP leader has moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Centre to hand over the 1993 report of the Vohra Committee to various Central agencies, including NIA, CBI, ED, IB, SFIO, RAW, CBDT and NCB, for a comprehensive probe into the criminal-politician nexus.

Delhi BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay sought concrete action on the report submitted by then Union Home Secretary NN Vohra on the alleged link between crime syndicates, politicians and bureaucrats.

He urged the top court to direct the government to reveal the names of the criminals, politicians and public servants against whom there was tangible evidence in the report and set up special courts to expeditiously try all cases referred to in the report.

Upadhyay wanted the court to address the systemic problem of criminalisation of politics without breaching the principle of separation of powers.

“Many of those named in the report are ministers, MPs even today and have been given Padma awards, Upadhyaya told The Tribune. He demanded that the top court should direct the Union Home Secretary to withdraw the Padma awards given to politicians and public servants referred to in the Vohra Committee report.

Pointing out that the report had recommended a Nodal Cell to be set up with powers to take stringent action against crime syndicates, Upadhyay alleged that no follow-up action has been taken in the last 27 years.

Noting that an incomplete version of the report was tabled in Parliament in 1995, he said citizens have a right to know about the complete report.

He sought a direction to the Home Secretary to handover a true copy of the Vohra Committee Report along with annexures and notes to the NIA Director, CBI Director, ED Director, IB Director, SFIO Director, RAW Director, NCB Director, CBDT Chairman and Lokpal Chairperson.

Upadhyay said the Lokpal Chairperson should be directed to monitor the probe into the alleged criminal-politician nexus. Alternatively, the top court should constitute a Judicial Commission to monitor the probe by NIA, CBI, ED, IB, SFIO, RAW, NCB and CBDT into the issues highlighted by the report, he said.


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