India is grappling with a confrontation with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The government is pursuing a mature policy involving both diplomatic as well as military channels, while taking all precautions to ensure that the matter does not escalate to an unacceptable level. The international community is keenly monitoring the situation. There is a universal consensus with regard to the righteousness of the Indian posture.
Ajai Shukla, a self proclaimed journalist and so-called defence and security analyst, has been consistently critical of the Indian efforts towards countering China’s misadventure in Ladakh. Being an Army veteran one would have expected him to, at least, stand by his comrades-in-arms if not the government. Instead, he is openly talking of irretrievable occupation of Indian strategic real estate by China due to mismanagement by Indian Army. To make matters worse, he has no concrete evidence to substantiate his atrocious claims.
In his blog he has written as many as five articles on the subject since May, 26. Surprisingly, these articles are also being carried by a business-centric magazine named Business Standard in which Shukla has a syndicated column. While carrying articles related to defence weaponry and procurement in a magazine of this nature is understandable, its interest in a subject of strategic nature does point towards a vested interest.
This apart, Ajai Shukla has been consistently tweeting on the subject. Most of the tweets are designed to embarrass the government and the Army. They are following the line laid out by a particular party in the opposition.
At every stage Shukla has launched personal attacks against those who are responsible to manage the situation. On June 1, he tweeted, “In a repeat of Kargil, PLA troops occupying positions in Galwan that overlook Shyok road to Daulat Beg Oldi can cut it off at will. Growing talk in army circles of replacing the Leh corps commander and the northern army commander for being caught napping.”
It seems that the political leadership has more faith in the military leadership than veteran Ajai Shukla since the two officers are firmly in command and control. Shukla’s incorrect predictions about the future of the senior officers make him liable to being sued for defamation by them. The damage caused by such utterances to the ongoing effort to contain the Chinese is incalculable and, as such, they border on sedition.
On June 6, Lieutenant General ranking military officers of both countries are scheduled to meet; already six to seven officer level meetings have been held, this would be at the most senior level so far. All through June 5, Shukla remained hype-active in giving negative predictions about the meeting. “China hanging tough on proposed military meeting. Silent on accepting invitation, no discussion of Galwan. My fear: To hide its debacle, govt might leave key positions with China, accept token withdrawal, and declare victory — to applause from bhakts,” he tweeted on the morning of June 5. One does get an impression that he had a well laid out agenda to disrupt and derail the meeting and was compelling the Chinese, through his posts, to adopt a stringent course of action. Can this not be termed as an act that goes against the strategic interest of the nation?
Earlier, he made fun of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “The most shocking aspect of the Chinese intrusions is this: Many Indians clearly love @narendramodi more than they love their country. They would close their eyes and allow China to capture chunks of Indian territory, rather than admit such a thing had happened on Modi’s watch,” he tweeted. While his right to criticise the prime minister and the government is undeniable but he needs to understand that there is a time and place to do so and indulging in mud-slinging when the nation is facing a crisis is not a part of journalistic protocol.
Most military writers, even retired Army Commanders, are writing on the face off. Their articles are generic in nature since nobody really knows the ground situation. Shukla, on the other hand, is giving minute details and writing as if he is sitting right where the action is. What he basically wishes to say, along with certain cronies of the BBC and people like Sashank Joshi, is that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has come deep into Indian territory and built tracks as well as defences in a manner that would leave the Shyok-Daulet Beg Oldie (DBO) road vulnerable. He further wishes to prove that the Indian government has remained in denial mode (much like Pakistan after the surgical strikes – according to him).
One would like to know as to where he is getting this information from and how has he built such expertise having never served in the area. How does he know that the Chinese are dominating Shyok-Daulet Beg Oldie (DBO) with well prepared defences? He could be using material circulating in social media or open source intelligence (OSINT) handles, but, considering his confidence it would be worthwhile to interrogate him with respect to his sources.
Ajay Shukla is just one of the many Indian journalists, columnists, social media activists, television speakers who are totally preoccupied in weakening India’s position by shelling out half truths or complete lies laced with doomsday predictions. Definitely there are much larger numbers of sane voices giving sound analysis and good suggestions as also multitudes of common people who stand firmly by their government. It is however, these disrupters dealing in misinformation and disinformation who give to the enemy ammunition to continue with his evil designs. One has only one suggestion to give to them, “if you have nothing positive to say then keep your mouths shut.”