“Know thy enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles, you will never be defeated.” Goes the quote from Sun-Tzu’s art of war. This is an adage that is still the cornerstone in the field of defense and geopolitics, and thus we must follow, to seek and understand the world around us, and our adversaries both external and internal. This understanding is not to be limited only to the matter’s military, economic, geographical and diplomatic, but also extends to the people. The principal actors themselves, and the human agents, including those within our borders.
This understanding of real-politic is the answer to the oft raised objection that “we must debate ideas but not people”. In the real-world one must be able to distinguish between a real intellectual debate where parties approach the matter with an open mind and psy-ops that are run by ari-prakiti neighbours. In the world of statecraft, the messenger is the message, and the carrier of the information matters as much as what they have to say.
Speaking for the Chinese?
One such examination is prompted by the recent set of blowhard articles that suddenly flooded a section of media. This refers to the narrative that China has occupied some portion of territory previously under Indian control, a story pushed desperately over the last couple of weeks. This was done with a maniacal singlemindedness even when the information available was not supportive, or in fact, pointing in the opposite direction.
To be sure, this is not the first time the parties involved have been caught being less than accurate and their track record is known over the many years, yet as was famously said by a politician “log bhool jaate hain” and therefore its important to keep revisiting some of the lesser-known history. However, before we go back in time, let us examine the current fracas and the role of untruths in them.
While the abolition of article 370 and pandemic has pushed Chinese actions in greater focus, it is not unusual for the Chinese to constantly test Indian defenses. This year’s confrontation started in late April, where Indian troops clashed with the Chinese at numerous locations on the Indo-Tibet border, ranging from Sikkim in the east to LAC on the western side. While the Chinese withdrew with a bloody nose (literally) in Sikkim, the situation in Akasi-Chin escalated. There were reports of scuffles between the two armies, objection by Chinese to Indian road building crossing over their perception of LAC and interference with patrols. This set of events continued from late April to late May and was sporadically reported in media as is usually the case. Then two things happened, on 23rd May Chief of Army Staff Gen Naravane visited Leh and on 26th May, Chinese president Xi Jinping directed China’s armed forces to strengthen the training of troops and to be ready for war.
It is then, almost as if on the cue a few Indian journalists suddenly became quite active. One of the main sources of hyperventilating rants that followed was Ajai Shukla. Quoting unnamed sources, he first claimed on 23rd May that 5000 Chinese troops were on Indian territory. Magically this number became 10,000 just in 3 days on May 26th.
He was almost immediately called out by the OSINT (open source intelligence community) on his lies.
In the last 2 days Ajai Shukla has increased his estimate of PLA soldiers on Indian soil by 5,000.
As of Friday, this was contradicted by satellite evidence. This is the current position of forces in the Galwan valley, with the LAC shown here from India's Ministry of Environment. https://t.co/R1XTgKGCL7 pic.twitter.com/OVFyjXS7Kr
— Nathan Ruser (@Nrg8000) May 26, 2020
Not only the fact that moving 5000 additional troops into India in 2-3 days is impossible, but the magical Chinese troops who did this were also nowhere to be seen in the satellite pictures.
When countered by OSINT, Ajai Shukla continued to thunder against them, in his best traditions, calling them names, ranting, obfuscating, and shifting goalposts. Unfortunately for his, satellite imagery does not lie, and his claims kept getting exposed.
The twitter handle @detresfa_ through a series of satellite imageries bought out how the Chinese build-up, while significant, was on the Chinese side of the LAC, even considering Indian perceptions. All that existed in terms of Chinese presence in gray zones were patrols and some Chinese tents. This when Ajai Shukla continued to proclaim that bunkers have been built! By this time mainstream publications were beginning to catch onto what was happening in social media space and the same started getting coverage.
This, unfortunately, did not stop Ajai Shukla from continuing his lies and of the immense amount of fakery his twitter timelines and articles are littered with, yet another gem emerged. To desperately support his by now tattered web of lies to claim Chinese intrusions, he had the temerity to attribute a completely fake news to the Defense Minister, which was called out by no less than PIB officially.
In fact, publications like News 18 who had the misfortune to base articles on the same, had to withdraw it.
One would expect that after such humiliation, any half-decent human being would stop the verbal diarrhea, but Ajai Shukla seems to be made of the same material that Rahul Gandhi is. Not only did he not stop, but continued to spin out more lies, each more grotesque than the other. This was especially fascinating as by this time the attempts to frame a narrative had completely failed and it was clear, that it was China, which was trapped, and not India.
Multiple articles from ex-servicemen who have served in the region, by a real journalist Nitin Gokhale who has been reporting from the ground, and OSINT sources bought out that the few Chinese who had tried to intrude were beaten back literally, and even the Chinese advance positions near LAC were enveloped by Indian troops who took to patrolling behind them.
It is clear that Ajai Shukla has been lying, deliberately flogging the Chinese line and spreading as many falsehoods as possible. Yet shocking as the current set of lies put out by Ajai Shukla are, it’s not new or unique. A look back at this man’s history reveals a long history of similarly disgusting fabrications.
A practice of maligning Indian forces!
One of his more sickening attempts to malign Indian forces was in April last year, when he tried to claim that IAF had put a court of inquiry on hold. In an article written by Ajai Shukla, he had incorrectly speculated that the IAF Court of Inquiry constituted to investigate the Mi-17 V5 crash at Srinagar on 27 Feb has been put on hold. IAF had come to categorically deny this, calling it his imagination. Of course, we know what a liar Ajai Shukla was because since then the court of inquiry has not only completed, it did in August, just 3 months after Ajai Shukla was caught lying.
The miasma of attacking India keeps going back, and while there are many examples, yet another especially putrid piece was when he attacked Rafael. Writing for South China Morning Post in late 2017, desperately batting for Eurofighter even at that late hour.
The depth this man can fall to keeps plumbing down, he was one of those who attacked the Indian Army on the issue of surgical strikes. He alternated between calling it fake and claiming that such actions are against international law and will only upset Pakistan and destabilize the situation. Shukla’s hatemongering against the strikes was picked up by Pakistani media, which used that to attack India, Along with Congress statements, Shukla’s statements were a key part of Pakistani denials and attacks on India.
Shukla’s deep loathing for India’s strikes on Pakistan was again given a lot of space in the Chinese channels, where he ranted against the Indian government and said that India was getting army men killed in order to fake a position of strength.
It is not that Shukla’s hate for the Indian military is only limited to the time Modi has been at the helm. This person has gone back in history, to attack IAF and PM Shastri claiming that IAF lost the 1965 war. His love for Pakistani narrative is so great, that he parrots Pakistani line about the 1965 war, where Pakistani air force was soundly defeated. This man, therefore, can go to any extent to appease and build up Pakistan and China and run-down India.
The Siachen sellout
One would expect that an Indian with a single patriotic bone in his body would be revolted by the kind of person Ajai Shukla is by now, but this is still nothing compared to the worst of his shenanigans. The crowing glory of his treasonous acts is his involvement in the emasculation of the Indian Army at Siachen and his attacks on servicemen and IAS officers who stood up against his cabal and stopped the sellout.
It’s now 8 years to the time and people forget, but one of the darkest spots in the very dirty history of the UPA administration was their attempts to “settle” the Siachen issue. To that end, an empowered Track II committee was formed with the blessing of the real powers that were ruling India. This committee was headed by no less than former Air Chief Tyagi, the gentleman who procured the Augusta Westland helicopters for the queen mother of Congress empire, Sonia Gandhi. The same where the UPA government was forced to cancel the deal after the chronicle of kickbacks and graft was exposed in the home country of Italy. Meeting in the fancy global hotspots of Bangkok, Dubai, USA, and finally, at Lahore, the track II negotiated an agreement to demilitarize Siachen as part of Confidence Building Measure between India and Pakistan. This was despite the clear stand adopted by the Army, Defence Ministry, and Ministry of External Affairs against ‘demilitarization’ of the glacier that has huge strategic value for India.
The just-retired Gen V K Singh was one of the braves who took on this powerful cartel, going against the might of government’s backing. In this, he was supported by nationalists like IAS and IA officer M.G.Devasahayam. The very decorated and illustrious Lt General PC Katoch, who had commanded the Siachen Brigade during the Kargil War and filmmaker Kunal Verma all raised their voices against this demolition of Indian interests.
As expected, the attack by the lobby was quick and harsh. It was led by Ajai Shukla, who acted as the attack dog of the cabal, who was the unofficial spokesman of the group. He called those opposing withdrawal of IA as “communal scum”. He called ex-chief V.K Singh as a rogue general. He called all those exposing the track II effort as being paid by the defense ministry. And continued to use all manners of foul language against ex-servicemen who did not capitulate to threats.
However, the nationalists were able to thwart the move by drumming up public opposition, and PMO made a hasty retreat. Yet, despite all that Ajai Shukla, “the treason-peddler” in M.G. Devashyam’s words, was attempted to be rewarded with a high position in Prasar Bharati. Yet another instance where UPA failed thankfully.
Though the Patriots were able to thwart the attempt to give up Siachen, the defeat of his intents and those of his group seem to have made him perpetually bitter against India and especially Indian armed forces.
A character sketch
What we have so far, are merely highlights of the “illustrious” career that Ajai Shukla has had, the list is long, with many insults being flung at our men in uniform and outside who dared stand up for India. A person is completely loyal to his “cause” of running India down in all possible ways; A person whom China and Pakistan can count on to amplify their message from within India.
To go back to the Godfather, beware of the person who seeks to bring a “peace message” from the enemy, for he, is the traitor.