3 minute readHow the army lost secret op plans against China

Map marking the locations of the formation headquarters

Map marking the locations of the formation headquarters

Around four years back, the Indian Army made plans to raise two new divisions in the north-east with 56 Mountain Division at Zakhama, coming under III Corps, and 71 Mountain Division at Missa Mari, coming under IV Corps.

The creation of these new formations necessitated the recalibration of the existing plans of operation of the two corps. Drafts of the new plans for the two corps were finalized over the period of a year and in the summer of 2011, they were communicated by Corps Headquarters to the formations they commanded. The number of copies made of the documents were restricted because of their sensitive nature.

These documents, variously described by army sources to be Op Plans, Op Orders or Op Instructions, contained the directives for the entire corps in the event of a conflict with China. The plans were terrain sensitive and were put together considering the difficult topography of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. They made reference to arms dumps and depots, besides other logistical resources and infrastructure as well modalities for the movement of formations.

In the case of 4 Corps, the headquarters at Tezpur dispatched the documents to the headquarters of the formations it commanded. These included the artillery brigade attached to the Corps, and three divisions, 5 Infantry Division, 21 Mountain Division and the newly raised 71 Mountain Division. The documents were specifically addressed to the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of 21 Mountain Division, Major General Navkiran Singh Ghei and marked confidential.

Soon after the documents were received at 21 Mountain Division headquarters at Rangia, they wwere reported missing. The division, corps and Eastern Army Command, which incorporates the two formations, went into a quiet tizzy. Military Intelligence teams were drafted to interrogate all personnel in the chain of custody of these documents. A Court of Inquiry was ordered on September 17, 2011, by Eastern Army Command in Kolkata. Major General Raman Dhawan, General Officer Commanding (GOC) 56 Mountain Division, the other new formation, was the presiding officer of the inquiry.

Two personnel at 21 Division headquarters were initially suspected of involvement, but nothing substantial was recovered from them.

Ghei relinquished command of 21 Mountain Division in December 2011 to Major General RN Nair and was then made an Additional Director General Military Operations (ADGMO) (Special Operations) in the Directorate General of Military Operations (DGMO). He took over as General Officer Commanding in Chief (GOC-in-C) of X Corps last February. He was awarded the Ati Vishishtha Seva Medal (AVSM) in January, 2012 as part of the Republic Day distinguished service awards list.

At the time of the loss of these documents, the command of IV Corps was undergoing a transition with Lieutenant General Shakti Gurung taking over from Lieutenant General Gyan Bhushan. And the Eastern Army Commander was Lieutenant General Bikram Singh, now the Chief of Army Staff. General Gurung later became Director General (Recruitment). He was also awarded the Uttam Yudh Seva Medal (UYSM) at the Republic Day investiture this year. General Bhushan is currently the South Western Army Commander.

Major General Raman Dhawan is currently Additional Director General (ADG) Discipline and Vigilance (DV) in the Adjutant General’s (AG) branch.

Neither have these documents ever been recovered nor has the Army been able to satisfactorily explain why the Court of Inquiry has taken almost two years. It is only now that indictments are being issued. Normally such inquiries are completed within a few months.

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