The main questions that were asked but not answered in IDSA’S WEBINAR on OP Pawan on 27th May and five relevant issues follow. www.indiadefenceforum.com tables this post extracted from the book Warring Navies ISBN 978-83-93-5158-638-0 Chapter 19’s twenty pages. IDF COMMENTS ARE IN CAPITALS. Question on RAW & IB role went answered, as expected. A loss to Indian Military History, as actors pass on.
Author’s analysis. “Was Rajiv Gandhi’s Op Pawan a foreign policy move, or an instrument for diversion from the Bofors scandal ? PM in India is India’s Commander-in Chief with Cabinet Control (Art 74) ? Rajiv as RM can be labeled the strategist for Op Pawan. Did he promise LTTE head Pirbahkaran some form of Elaam in a ‘one to one’ in Ashoka Hotel Room 328 when he came to New Delhi on 28th June 1987 for parleys, after meeting MG Ramachandran(MGR); he was escorted by Defence Adviser Capt BK Gupta, as per arrangements made by Indian High Commission First Secretaries Hardeep Puri and Mrs Puri (later Ambassadors) under the high profile pipe smoking High Commissioner J N Dixit who sipped brandy with foxy President Julius Jayawardne, remains the question for researchers when official papers are released as Rajiv was assassinated by the LTTE”.
“Most Battles are won or lost before they are engaged by men who take no part in them, by their Strategist.” Carl Von Clausewitz (1832)
1.COMMENT. DIFFUSED COMMAND & CONTROL AND NO MILITARY OR POLITICAL AIM WERE THE CULPRITS IN OP PAWAN—ARMY WAS SUPPOSEDLY CONTROLLED BY A FINE GOC-in-C LT GEN DIPENDER SINGH OFC IN PUNE BUT MAJ GEN KALKAT WAS PROMOTED & EXERCISED MUCH FROM TRINCO AND THEN MADRAS AS HE EXPLAINED. THE IAF HAD ASSETS IN TAMABARAM DIRECTED BY AIR HQ & INDIAN NAVY TRANSPORT SUPPORT & PERSONNEL AT KKS & MARCOS EXPLAINED BY VADM SHEKHAR WERE CONTROLLED BY C-in-C EAST VICE ADMIRAL SC CHOPRA & COS REAR ADMIRAL PS DAS IN NON INTERNET TIMES——-BUT DAILY CONFLICTING ORDERS ALSO WENT OUT FROM GEN K SUNDARJI TO ARMY & BY RAW & MEA TO HC MANI DIXIT WHO ALSO COUNSELED THE ARMY !
2. OP PAWAN WAS A NON-UN, INDEPENDENT FIRST PEACE KEEPING OPERATION INDIA HAD UNDER TAKEN AT SHORT NOTICE AND ARMY CHIEF KEPT THE CHAIRMAN CHIEFS OF STAFF OUT OF THE LOOP MOST OF THE TIME. HE WAS IN MOSCOW WHEN TROOPS WERE HURRIEDLY LAUNCHED. A ONE PAGE OPS ORDER WAS MADE OUT IN ARMY OPS ROOM. THE POLARIZATION OF DECISION MAKING WAS IN THE HANDS OF A PANICKED PM RAJIV GANDHI AND HIS BRILLIANT AIDE AMB RONEN SEN WHO CONSULTED OTHERS. MR RONEN SEN’S NAME CAME UP WHEN LT GEN KALKAT CONTACTED HIM IN CANADA FOR A CRUCIAL DECISION TO TAKE ON THE LTTE AND HE INDICATED, “ BOSS (PM RAJIV) IS NOT AVAILABLE”………..PROVES THE POINT.
3. Book Extract. The PM in India is India’s de facto Commander-in Chief with Cabinet Control (Art 74). Did he promise LTTE head PIrabhakaran some form of Eelam in a ‘one to one’ when he came for parleys to New Delhi on 28 July 1987 in Ashoka Hotel ? PIrabhakaran insisted to stop en-route to meet MGR ? Delhi had to agree, as otherwise Pirbhakaran threatened to fly back. What did MGR and Rajiv promise? As Rajiv was assassinated by the LTTE, this remains a question for researchers, only when official papers are released to see role of EPRLF.
THE THIMPU MEET BACKGROUND IS IMPORTANT AND WAS ASKED AT WEBINAR BUT MINISTER PURI HE SAID HE HAD ONLY READ STORIES ABOUT IT. RAJIV WAS MIFFED BY PIRABHAKARAN IN A NEPAL MEET & AT THIMPU.
3.Book Extract. In 1985, two futile attempts were made to negotiate for peace and a resolution short of Eelam. Talks were held in Thimpu in neutral Bhutan, to get the Sri Lankans, the various Tamil groups (IB MK NARAYANAN KNOWS), and India’s representatives to settle. The LTTE bucked the talks. Rajiv, riding a crest with his election victory, surrounded by his cronies, many from his Doon school days, was livid. MGR was ailing and flown to the USA for treatment. The Indian advisers on Sri Lanka, Natwar Singh, Romesh Bhandari, J N Dixit, Parthasarathy (Sr.), Dinesh Singh, P Chidambaram, Ronen Sen of PMO’s office, and the key Joint Secretary in MEA Kuldip Sahadev, were all grappling with a Sri Lanka policy. Intelligence agencies were mired in their own secret activities and preferences of Tamil groups. A MOLE IN RAW UNIKRISHNAN WAS FOUND BY IB. SEE MOVIES MADRAS CAFÉ& EXPRESS.
MINISTER PURI PRAISED PM RAJIV FOR NOT FOLLWING MRS GANDHI’S POLICIES. OP BUSTER WAS AN EXAMPLE HOW SHREWD MRS G HANDLED SRI LANKA-
4. Book Extract. In 1983, an order came down from Naval Headquarters (NHQ) to then Vice Admiral R H Tahiliani FOC-In-C West at Bombay to co-ordinate with Gen R S Dyal, GOC-In-C Southern Command, to plan contingency in a special operation concerning Sri Lanka. This author, as Command Operations and Plans Officer, and a navigation sailor (Radar Plotter) with naval charts, and tourist maps flew with the Admiral to Pune. An Army Brigadier and a Colonel Arora (G1?) assembled the next day in the Command House to plan a joint operation to cut Sri Lanka in the North East into a separate state, like India did with Bangladesh. A sketchily planned operation (impressive on paper) was hurriedly drawn up and only three copies were made titled Op Buster. This author was not allowed a copy, and told it was merely an inter-service exercise in contingency planning, normal in all professional militaries. Nothing happened for years but this author’s hunch (after inquiries) is that a copy may have been leaked by Mrs Indira Gandhi to Sri Lanka, in her ‘carrot and stick’ policy. If this was her stick, she also used economic means to keep Sri Lanka on board. She died in 1984, and Rajiv Gandhi, lacking finesse or experience, fell into the trap of President Jayawardene’s machinations. High Commissioner J N Dixit in his book Assignment Colombo writes, “Rajiv’s focus of attention on Sri Lanka was refracted from 1986 and the first five months of 1987, due to rising levels of tensions with Pakistan following Brasstacks and the Bofors scandal.” MRS GANDHI POLICY WAS MORE CLEAR & SHREWD. MINISTER PURI FELT RAJIV’S POLICY WAS BETTER. DEBATEABLE.
5. Book Extract. President Jayawardne wanted Rajiv Gandhi to help tame VHP and the LTTE which was running all over areas in the South and Jaffna, in bitter fighting against the cricket-playing Sri Lankan Army, as many called it. The Indian Government was looking for a diversion, as it was cornered in the Bofors scam. In parleys, Army Chief Gen K Sundarji appears to have assured Rajiv (MINISTER PURI SAID HE WAS IN THE MEETING) that he could settle the LTTE boys (THAMBIS MINISTER PURI SAID) in a few days, and military preparations to deploy 54 Div (340 Brigade at short notice) from Hyderabad, were set in motion. The author watched proceedings in hectic meetings in South Block in Army Ops room COURTESY DDGMO Brig VP Malik and the Navy earmarked operational ships to transport troops from Chennai. When Air Chief ACM Dennis La Fountaine said the IAF had limited capacity for the air lift of a Division, Rajiv Gandhi, an ex-Indian Airlines pilot assured the Air Chief, that all Indian Airlines flights on D day would be cancelled for the operation. I recall La Fountaine, who this author knew from NDA, where he was a very well-liked Divisional officer, say, “Well then, Bob’s your uncle!” Maj Gen Harkirat Singh the 54 Div Cdr, in his book, Intervention in Sri Lanka (Manohar, 2000) describes how First Secretary Hardip Singh in Colombo informed Pirabhakaran that Rajiv Gandhi was waiting to meet him to discuss issues before an accord was finalized. Prabhakaran was delighted and he with family and other leaders of the LTTE were flown in IAF helicopters on 28 July from a spot in the Jaffna jungle to Palali, where IAF Avro748s were positioned, as he did not arrive at the appointed Jaffna University grounds, fearing a trap had been laid for him. Capt B K Gupta, Defence Adviser, escorted PIrabhakaran, and the author was in touch with him. Prabhakaran threatened Gupta that he held him responsible for staying safe, or Gupta’s own family would be in trouble. He asked to divert the Avro to Madras, as he wanted to meet Chief Minister MG Ramachandran, an LTTE supporter in more ways than one. MGR provided refuge in Tamil Nadu to LTTE operators, and many say had money connections. Hectic messages were exchanged between Joint Secretaries Kuldip Sahadev (MEA) and Ronen Sen (PMO). PIrabhakaran landed in Madras, where MGR who had lost his voice and through an aide, who lip read him, had some talks behind closed doors. Something serious ensued. On arrival in Palam Air Base on 28 July afternoon, I was part of the reception party. Capt BK Gupta and I were told the Navy’s task was over by the MEA officials, who whisked Pirabhakaran and party away. Pirabhakaran met Rajiv Gandhi and no record has been released of what transpired.
WHEN AMBASSADOR RONEN SEN WAS ASKED IN 2013 ABOUT OP PAWAN, WHEN HE DELIVERED A BRILLIANT TALK TO DELHI GYMKHANA MEMBERS, HE REPLIED, “IT IS TOO EARLY TO DISCUSS THIS.” THE REST IS HISTORY IN THE BOOK AND BRIG BAHRI AND NITIN GOKHALE REFERRED TO THE COST WHICH WARRING NAVIES HAS ESTIMATED MADE INDIA RUN OUT OF FFE IN 1991. MANY BOOKS HAVE BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT OP PAWAN. BUT EVEN TODAY MILITARY SHOULD GET THE PAPERS TO LEARN ABOUT POLITICO MILITARY COMMAND & CONTROL & CDS MUST HAVE STUDIED THEM.