Book Review | Joining the dots to complete Partition puzzle

Whatever it resulted in was a course of events for which India is dearly paying till date

The trend of hijacking and distorting huge amounts of India’s history by the British was faithfully followed by the Congress for decades after Independence — in fact till it finally got pushed out of power in 2014. Iqbal Chand Malhotra who, through his earlier works on Pakistan and China, proved to be a determined history hound has once again been able to provide his readers many important and so-far unreported facts. This time, Malhotra’s findings relate to the Great Game.

The British were indeed shocked when they discovered a battalion of Cossack troops in Kashgar, more than a decade before it was “incorporated” into the Peoples Republic of China in 1949. And the installation of nuclear-related devices by the Russians in Aksai Chin, which they motivated the Chinese to take over from a then ignorant Indian government, only amounted to a temporary setback for the British in the extended Great Game.

 

The author maintains that the Soviets desperately needed access to Aksai Chin’s uranium ores and transport them by road to their uranium extraction plant in Khoj and Tajikistan. The Soviets used the Chinese as a decoy. Both hid their secret and also brought in a third party to act as buffer between them and the Muslim insurgents in Sinkiang, led by Osman Bator, who staunchly opposed them with covert US help. Stalin’s suggestion to Mao to invade uninhabited western Tibet provided the smokescreen to build the road from Aksai Chin to Khoj and kill many birds with one stone.

One wonders how many Indians are aware of the fact about the first war between India and Pakistan (1947-48), which the British chiefs of the Indian and Pakistani armies “directed” much like fixing matches and much to the advantage of Pakistan. Whatever it resulted in was a course of events for which India is dearly paying till date.

 

This book, yet again, significantly joins many dots and answers many questions that have not been addressed by anyone else so far, namely, why India was given independence without a fight by the British; why Partition took place; why the date for transfer of power was advanced by the British to August 15, 1947; why Kashmir was invaded; why Aksai Chin was invaded and so on.

A matter with important long-term implications brought out in the book is Nehru’s refusal to an India-US partnership offered by the US in 1949, which would have proved to be a game-changer for India. Monitoring the nuclear theft by Russia and China eventually benefited Britain enough to acquire nuclear knowhow. India remains a major loser in the Great Game till date.

 

This book is a must read for all concerned with India’s security and politics and will greatly interest Indians, by and large, as well as readers of all other countries featuring in it.

Dark Secrets: Politics, Intrigue and Proxy Wars in Kashmir

By Iqbal Chand Malhotra

Bloomsbury

pp. 277, Rs.799

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