Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Grudges From The Siachen Sellout


Day before an article by Shiv Kunal Verma on the situation in Kashmir went viral on social media. Writing in the context of the latest incident in the Valley in which Major Dahiya and 5 soldiers lost their lives, the author has done some plain speaking. By holding up a mirror which has no partisan political leanings, Kunal has stated in no uncertain terms what today is the general feeling among the young officers and men. Frankly, sometimes it takes a lot of courage to stand up and tell the truth. And if you are willing to stick your neck out, you will get trolled which is fair enough, and most readers are astute enough to know which comments are motivated and which are genuine.

But when the writer gets abused by a former Colonel in the Army for purely personal reasons, then that's crossing the Rubicorn. Ajai Shukla on twitter promptly went on line and referred to Kunal as 'VK Singh's barking dog'! Even some of those who follow Shukla's writings commented on the ridiculous nature of the remark. However, since the good Colonel has once again exposed his maniacal bias towards both Gen VK Singh and Kunal, I think it is time to retell a story wherein lies the genesis of this grudge.

Gentlemen, cast your minds back to October 2012, the sixth round of Trac II deliberations between two teams of officers had got over. The Indian side was represented by twelve former Service officers under the able leadership of Air Chief Marshal (Rtd) SP Tyagi, almost all the others in the team were retired senior officers (mostly Lt Generals and secretaries) who had never served in Siachen. Tagged at the bottom of the list was Shuklaji (presumably because he too had a Service background and was then a regular on NDTV). The Pakistani side was similarly headed by a former Army Chief, General Beg.

It is now no secret that in 2005, Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh had been asked by the US (desperate then to give sops to Pakistani generals so as to have their support in Afghanistan) to vacate Siachen as the Pakistani Army was deeply disturbed by loss of men to frequent avalanches in the region. Working on the assumption that the gates to India have always been opened from within, the yanks, according to MD Nalapat, also threw in the offer of a Nobel Peace Prize to MMS. The good Prime Minister in turn asked the good JJ Singh if it was 'do able' and that worthy said he would ensure the Army did not object, though publically he would have to keep a different posture (refer Sanjay Baru's book... The Accidental Prime Minister).

With JJ in the bag, MMS now asked Brig Gunmeet Kanwal to prepare a paper justifying the troop withdrawl from Siachen. A Canadian-based think tank, Atlantic Council (a well known CIA/CFR front) was selected, and along with a Pakistani brigadier, a joint paper was prepared. However, with JJ Singh having by then retired, the PMO ran into Deepak Kapoor and then Gen VK, who unlike JJ were not likely to turn turtle and sell out the Army and the Country.

Shortly after Bikram Singh took over the reins of the Army, the PMO made its pitch. The committee under Bundles Tyagi had little or no idea whatsoever about Siachen, and it was left to Shuklaji to deliver the goods. Brought into the group by MMS's press advisor, Pachauri, Shuklaji was promised chairmanship of Prasar Bharti apart from all the other goodies he would get for pulling off this feat. During the course of these predetermined deliberations, the Trac II teams went globe trotting to hold these so called deliberations at various locations each time, and received expensive gifts amounting crores, all paid up by Atlantic Council. Its anybody's guess as to who funds such overtures of the Council, its one and the same be it CIA, CFR or ISI for that matter.

In October 2012, Trac II was to become Trac I and the place where 'not even a blade of grass grows' was to see an Indian pull out. 

At this stage, certain members of the Trac II team themselves alerted Lt General Prakash Katoch, who himself had commanded the Siachen Brigade, as to what was happening. However, the mandarins in the PMO who were monitoring the situation, also got to know that Katoch and a few others over whom they had 'no control' were now aware of the Siachen sell out. A virtual media black out on the subject was put into place, as a result of which not one media house would agree to look at the story. 

A group of ex Service officers and other concerned officers were by now desperately trying to highlight the issue, but no one was listening. Finally, it was Anil Tyagi, the gutsy editor of G-Files, who carried a report written by Kunal Verma and MG Devasahayam on the subject in his November 2012 issue. The story, which was accompanied by a map, apart from highlighting the behind the scenes machinations, simply asked the all important question- if India was to withdraw from its positions on the Saltoro, what would the next line of defence be?

The G-Files article set the cat amidst the pigeons as the ex-Servicemen community pointed out on social media just how detrimental to India's interests the move would be. They pointed out that a) Pakistan was not on Siachen but was to the west of the Saltoro ridge which was now the defacto line of control; b) It was not so much Pakistan but China who could occupy the glacier since the Shaksgam Valley was under their control and c) the new line of defence would then have to run along the Ladakh range on the southern side of the Shyok River, a situation that would require a massive deployment of additional troops.

The Outlook magazine's Hindi edition then quickly published a translated version of the G-Files article. The English edition was to follow up with a cover story that was being worked on by their own correspondents, but on the eve of going to press, a few calls from the PMO saw it being put on hold. However, by then, the cat was out of the bag and all talk of a withdrawal was now under the scanner. Then Chief Minister Modi made a statement saying there was no question of a compromise on either Sir Creek or Siachen, the Army Chief also said it was not advisable and per force, the now hot potato, was dropped by MMS. 

This is when things got interesting, no one was looking at Shuklaji, the focus being on Air Chief Marshal Tyagi and some other big names in the Trac II team. His own carefully laid plans evaporating under his nose, he fired off three abusive e-mails as he grew unsettled. The first went to Katoch, wherein in a tacit admission, Shuklaji accused the Special Forces general of being upset only because 'he hadn't received the goodies' which the members of the Trac II team got, a short while later a second e-mail to Devasahayam and a third to Verma followed, in which he ranted and raved and made all sorts of wild accusations and made himself a laughing stock. 

This is the man, Gentlemen, who since then has time and again launched abusive attacks on not just these three people, but also General VK Singh who also came out very strongly against the Siachen withdrawal plan of the UPA government. Shuklaji has shamelessly used the Business Standard platform to hurl abuse, be it on policy issues or even the book review of VK's book which was co-authored by Verma. He has now done it again, and here is the reason why. 

In a country where our laws are so lax that a Jai Chand like Shuklaji can get away with treason should hardly come as a surprise. This man, who unfortunately has a rank attached to his name, and has propelled homself socially owing to his political connections (mainly through strategic marriages) needs to be exposed. If anyone has any doubts, just search on google and you'll have the entire timeline of the Siachen drama at your fingertips.

Then you be the judge.

Vishwajeet Singh

Vishwajeet Singh is a practicing lawyer in the Apex Court and other forums with expertise in International Law, Public Interest, Military Affairs, Environment, Maritime Law and is a commentator on Defence matters and acquisitions.


  1. Surely ,it is a highly sensational and a burning issue of national importance and so every one should read this article.Jawans will certainly improve their general awareness.

  2. karunakaran a ex havildarFebruary 22, 2017 at 7:10 PM

    It is very sad to know that our so called top brasses alongwith civilian counterparts have dealt the matter of withdrawal for pittance selling the integrity of our country as well as individual patriotism . see how ridiculous it is