oldiers and officers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) used medieval torture instruments — clubs with metal spikes and heavy rods wrapped in barbed wire, all prohibited under the 1977 Protocol 1 in addition to the Geneva Conventions of 1949—to attack, kill, and permanently injure Indian soldiers and officers on the evening / night of 15 June. So far, 20 soldiers and officers have been martyred by marauding PLA soldiers, including a colonel; many are undergoing treatment in military hospitals.
The Indian Government has not yet publicly reported the grievous injuries and other specific details. In response to my question at the Foreign Correspondents Club press conference, BJP National Executive Member, MP and former Cabinet Minister Dr Subramanian Swamy agreed with my suggestion and stated that the barbarity and violation of international law should be widely reported to the international community. Dr Swamy added that it was supplementary to bullet firing and maneuvering tanks and a very useful addition to the confrontation that is likely to be ongoing and long-term. While the folly of a former Prime Minister who brought the Kashmir issue to the UN is well known, this is a completely different matter; India has recently become a non-permanent Member of the UN Security Council, and what better use of that membership than raising this travesty, and recording for posterity in President Reagan’s immortal words, “those who help us and those who don’t?”
It’s hard to imagine that erudite intellectuals like Wang Huning from the Chinese Politburo or even President Xi Jinping ordered anyone to carry medieval weapons to attack Indian soldiers. Yet they have to take vicarious liability and responsibility for the brutality as they are technically in command of the PLA, no matter how nuanced the reality of the vast military-industrial complex that the PLA is that I have explained in a recent column.
The Indian Government reported in the war of October 1962 that China had violated the Geneva Conventions. The rapid attack by Chinese troops resulted in 3,942 war prisoners from India, who were then marched to Tibet and kept in three different camps — Drowa Gumpa, Taku Gumpa and Chenjyi. The government stated that in treating the sick and wounded and prisoners of war, the Chinese violated all accepted principles of civilized conduct, and a memorandum was sent to the International Committee of the Red Cross listing the infringements of the various clauses of the Geneva Convention.
ADDITIONAL PROTOCOLS IN 1977 TO 1949 GENEVA CONVENTIONS ESTABLISH STANDARDS OF LAW FOR HUMANITARIAN TREATMENT IN WAR
The Additional Protocols were approved in 1977, to deal with certain issues not protected by the original Geneva Conventions.
“Part III. Section I-methods and means of warfare. Article 35—Basic rules
(1) In any armed conflict the Parties to the conflict shall have no unlimited right to choose methods or means of war.
(2) The use of weapons, projectiles and materials and methods of warfare of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering shall be prohibited.”
In this context, and given that humanitarian law is often designed in Geneva, Switzerland and thus translated from the French, as the International Committee of the Red Cross has existed there since 1863, here the meaning of the awkward term superfluous injury is that which has caused unnecessary suffering, and others interpret it as permanent injury, like loss of an eye. There are several definitions which include:
“1. More than 25 % of all casualties in field mortality.
2. Hospital mortality in an adequately equipped medical facility with basic and non-specialized facilities exceeds 5 %.
3. Infliction of Red Cross wound classification of more than 10 % grade 3 wounds among those who survive in hospital.
4. The survivors’ need to live in hospital more than a month on average.
5. The need for more than 3 operations in a non-specialist hospital that has a basic technology level.
6. More than 20 % of the survivors transfuse the need for blood.
7. Permanent disability.”
Attacking heavy clubs with metal spikes that have caused 20 deaths so far and injuring dozens of others, some seriously, would definitely qualify as violations.
INDIAN MILITARY MEDICINE
India operates 112 military hospitals, 12 Air Force Hospitals and 9 Naval Hospitals throughout the country. They are in many ways well run models of what hospitals should be, with good infrastructure and skilled medical teams (who wear military uniforms).
Most importantly, regardless of the rank of the military personnel, they are provided with the best possible care, and no one asks for a “gift” as can occur in some government hospitals, nor does the patient have to fear the steep bills that some private hospitals are presenting. I can still remember my late uncle, Major-General P.T. Joseph, AVSM, PVSM, then Army Chief Surgeon (with the FRCS), expressing his frustration at seeing a post-operative case of junior Sepoy struggling to access his portable urinal, and how he had to admonish a “orderly” ward to be more careful. Thinking correspondingly is uncommon for most senior doctors in the civilian world, but the relations between everyone in the armed forces are such that the Chinese would be well advised not to attack the Indian military personnel.
KRISHNA MENON’S NEUROSURGERY IN THE U.S.
While the Lutyens Zone appears uncertain whether to join the China-Russia-Pakistan alliance, or the Indo-Pacific U.S. alliance, or otherwise stay firmly on the fence, it was quintessentially Indian to abuse the U.S. when necessary and seek help when necessary. The alliance led by China appears toolat be overflowing with those countries that wish to dismember India. And being nonaligned, while attractive, runs the risk that at critical moments no one will come to support it.
At the time of the 1962 China War, the defense minister, V.K. Krishna Menon, on whom most of the blame for unpreparedness was laid, while historical accounts point to wider liability for the errors, was renowned during the 1950s for his vituperative tirades against the U.S.- He was also known, however, for traveling to Beijing in 1955 to seek the release of four American Air Force personnel imprisoned in China, and for his personal friendship with then-U.S. Ambassador, Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., who later campaigned for his Lok Sabha election. And when Menon had a brain ailment first diagnosed by my late uncle, Major-General Joseph, then the Army’s senior-most clinician, Defense Minister Menon happily went to the U.S. in September 1961 to remove blood clots from his brain at Montefiore Hospital , New York, the same city where he had lambasted the U.S. at the United Nations years before.
Yet at the time of the Chinese attack in 1962, having no alliance with anyone cost India dearly. When the PLA was deep in Indian territory, Defence Minister Menon appealed to the U.S. for help, but then-U.S. Ambassador John Kenneth Galbraith only “wanted to help India in its hour of need, concretely and effectively, but not at the cost of throwing Menon a lifeline just as he was floundering.” That is why, in 1971, PM Indira Gandhi signed the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation to serve as a deterrent to Chinese and U.S. intervention in the conflict between India and Pakistan to free Bangladesh. And the 1971 USSR is not today’s Russia, because it is now allied with China.
It is best to face the harsh reality of the confrontation in the mountains; possibly a prelude to sustained aggression that should be kept accountable in several respects, and as stated by Mark Harmon and Fergal Gaynor, prosecutors of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, we should all agree that “a slap on the offender’s wrist is a slap in the face of the victims.”