Srinivas Kumar Sinha

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Lieutenant General (Retd.) Srinivas Kumar Sinha, PVSM (born 1926) is an Indian soldier. After his retirement, he served as Governor of the states of Jammu and Kashmir and Assam.


Indian Imperial Police

Early life[edit]

Srinivas Kumar Sinha was born in Gaya, Bihar, the son of Mithilesh Kumar Sinha, IP, the first Indian Inspector-General of Police of the state of Bihar.[1] He graduated with Honours from Patna University in 1943 at the age of 17, and joined the Indian Army soon thereafter, passing out as the Best Cadet from the Officers' Training School, Belgaum, the war time equivalent of the Sword of Honour. He saw combat service during the Second World War in Burma and Indonesia and, after India became independent, in Kashmir. He served two tenures in Nagaland and Manipur taking part in counter insurgency operations.

Army career[edit]

In 1953, Sinha secured the top position at the Defence Services Staff College in India and in 1962 again, at the Joint Services Staff College in the United Kingdom. He held all levels of active command in the Army from a platoon to a field army. He commanded a battalion in Ladakh, a brigade in Manipur, a mountain division in Assam, an infantry division in Jammu, a corps in the Punjab and a field Army in the Western Theatre. He held key staff and instructional appointments. He served as Director, Military Intelligence, Adjutant General and Vice Chief of Army Staff at Army Headquarters. He also served as an instructor at Mhow and Staff College, Wellington. In 1949, he was appointed Secretary of the Indian delegation on delineation of the Cease Fire Line in Kashmir at a meeting convened by the United Nations. He led the Indian delegation to Italy in 1972 for a conference on application of human rights to warfare. He was awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal in 1973. He was made Honorary ADC to the President of India and also President of the Gorkha Brigade.

In a publication in the US by the noted South Asian expert, Stephen Cohen, he has been referred to as one of India's most outstanding post-independence Generals.[2]

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi asked Sinha to compose a plan to attack the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar, the holiest of all Sikh shrines. Sinha was willing to carry out the order but sought permission from the then Defense Minister to convey his views to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi before ordering his soldiers. He was not able to submit his views and the order to him was rescinded. He had his own prescription of how to extricate the terrorists from Golden Temple. He knew that an attack on Golden Temple would alienate the Sikhs and jeopardise the unity of Indian Army which is so reliant on Sikh soldiers. He sought premature retirement from the Army in 1983 on being denied the appointment of Army Chief. His surprise supersession and resignation became a national controversy. His dignified statement at the time of his supersession added to his stature. He stated that he did not question the decision of the Government but accepted it and had chosen to fade away from the Army. All newspapers and magazines wrote very favourably about him. Former Prime Minister, former Defence Minister and many senior political leaders issued a joint statement in his favour and also raised the issue in the Parliament.The officer chosen to be the Chief was his friend and a competent General.

It was a surprise when he was superseded and Lt.-Gen. A. S. Vaidya, the GOC-in-C Eastern Command was appointed as the Chief of Army Staff. Vaidya was in-charge when Operation Blue Star (the June 1984 storming of the Golden Temple) took place. Sinha remained in national focus after quitting the Army through his lectures on academic subjects in Universities and numerous edit page articles in national newspapers.[3]

Ambassador to Nepal[edit]

In 1990 Sinha was appointed India’s Ambassador to Nepal, when autocratic rule prevailed in that country and bilateral relations with India had hit their nadir in the wake of the trade and transit impasse of 1989. During his tenure in Nepal, democracy was restored in Nepal and India-Nepal relations were raised to a high level of cordiality. The Prime Minister of India stated that Sinha had played a major role in this happy development. The Prime Minister of Nepal wrote, "General Sinha was as much India's Ambassador to Nepal as Nepal's Ambassador to India".[3]

Governor of Assam[edit]

In 1997 Sinha was appointed Governor of Assam at a time when insurgency in that State was at its peak. He crafted a three prong strategy of unified command, economic development and psychological initiatives. Heavy attrition was inflicted on the militants through co-ordinated and intensified military operations breaking the back of the militants. He was instrumental in installing one lakh shallow tube wells in Brahmaputra valley turning Assam from a rice deficit State to a rice surplus State. [4] His psychological initiatives had a large emotional content. [5]Such an approach was tried out for the first time and it yielded rich dividends.[6] His 42-page printed report to the President on illegal migration from Bangladesh addressed the root cause of insurgency in the State. This report was serialised and published in full in all newspapers of the State. His recommendation on scrapping the Illegal Migration Detection By Tribunal (IMDT) Act, which facilitated illegal migration and applied only to Assam and not to other states, took the people of Assam by storm. Although controversial in some circles at the time, the Supreme Court struck down the IMDT ACT quoting extensively from his report. He started being referred to as "our man in Raj Bhavan". His attempts to make the people of Assam proud of their past and the rest of India proud of Assam, touched the emotional chords of the people. He projected the three icons of Assam, Saint Shankardev, General Lachit Borphukan and the great statesman Gopinath Bordoloi as national heroes. Documentaries on their lives were prepared and shown on Doordarshan. A statue of Lachit was installed at National Defence Academy, Pune and a gold medal instituted in his name for cadet with best officer-like qualities. Guwahati airport was renamed Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport and a posthumous Bharat Ratna was obtained for him fifty years after his death. His 11-foot (3.4 m) bronze statue was installed in the Lok Sabha at Delhi. These and other such measures were successful in winning the hearts and minds of the people and bringing them back into the national mainstream, completely isolating the militants. Senior journalist, Shri D N Bezboruah, former Editor of The Sentinel and President of The Editors' Guild of India, wrote abut him, "a Governor who far outshone all his predecessors in not being just a titular Head of State, but a Governor who served the State brilliantly with deep commitment to its people for six glorious and eventful years. He sought to rebuild the psychological alienation that crept in between Assam and the Indian heartland." When he departed from Assam in 2003 insurgency was virtually over in the State and he was popularly referred to as "a true son of the soil of Assam."

Governor of Jammu and Kashmir[edit]

He was instrumental in establishing Sri Amarnath Trust Board in 2003.[7]


General Sinha has been a prolific writer having contributed nearly 300 edit page articles in national newspapers. He is the author of nine books including one on Jammu and Kashmir Operation of 1947–48 and his autobiography, A Soldier Recalls.[8] His other books are Of Matters Military, Pataliputra, Veer Kuer Singh, A Governor's Musings, Reminiscences and Reflections and Changing India, Guarding India's Integrity: A Pro-Active Governor Speaks. The latter covers at length, his tenures as Governor of Assam and of Jammu and Kashmir, and has a foreword by Dr A P J Kalam.


Government offices
Preceded by
Lok Nath Misra
Governor of Assam
Succeeded by
Arvind Dave
Preceded by
Mata Prasad
Governor of Arunachal Pradesh
17 MAY 1999 – 1 AUG 1999
Succeeded by
Arvind Dave
Preceded by
Girish Chandra Saxena
Governor of Jammu and Kashmir
Succeeded by
Narinder Nath Vohra