Brigadier Devinder Singh may have won back some undeniable honour for himself and his formation, the 70 Brigade, but every correspondent that covered the war — and those who followed it as closely as I did — agree that the judgement has interminably complicated what the establishment would have best liked kept asleep. Brigadier Singh was superbly modest when he spoke to Headlines Today, suggesting that the verdict was specific to his case and did not necessarily call into question to veracity of the official history of the operations as a whole. I, and a lot of others, think it actually does.
That history is always someone’s opinion has always been known. But this judgement has frighteningly proved how personal interpersonal prejudices and malafide intentions are totally, utterly, meaningfully a part of official records of events. How else could one explain the superimposition of a fictitious brigade headquarters, headed by one Brigadier Ashok Dugal, in the operations? The judgement is searing proof that the biases of men, the top commanders during the war, may have totally subverted any truth we may ever hope to learn about Kargil. Will that truth only reside in a clutch of journalists who visited the front and were able to see and record what they saw before the establishment could bend it out of shape in battle performance reports and official histories? It’s a question worth pondering. No wonder all our most important official histories are still officially classified.
What about Lt Gen Kishan Pal, who has finally found guts — a full 24 hours after the judgement came out — to come out and deny that he fudged any reports or showed any bias. What happens to him? Should he be reprimanded? Should he receive a rap on the knuckles? Is a rap enough for letting his prejudices steal honour from a battle formation and commander that deserved much more than they got? Is there any procedure that will allow the country to bring this General to task, and complete the truth about what really happened, and how lies came to be told on official documents that will live forever in the treasure-chests of the nation? All questions worth thinking about. In my opinion, of course.