A satellite image taken over Galwan Valley in Ladakh. (Credits: Reuters)
NEW DELHI: A violent physical clash between India-China border troops on June 15 in Galwan Valley resulted in the death of at least 20 Indian soldiers and left several others battling for life. While there are no confirmed number of deaths on the Chinese side, however, the External Affairs Ministry said both sides suffered casualties.
Here are the latest developments:
Loss of soldiers in Galwan is deeply disturbing and painful: Defence minister
“The loss of soldiers in Galwan is deeply disturbing and painful. Our soldiers displayed exemplary courage and valour in the line of duty and sacrificed their lives in the highest traditions of the Indian Army, ” said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday. He added, “Nation will never forget their bravery and sacrifice. My heart goes out to the families of the fallen soldiers. The nation stands shoulder to shoulder with them in this difficult hour. We are proud of the bravery and courage of India’s bravehearts.”
Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday held a meeting with 3 Service Chiefs (Army, Navy & Air Force) and the Chief of Defence Staff. The defence minister also spoke to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on the current situation.
20 Indian soldiers dead, four severely injured
Twenty Indian soldiers, including a Colonel, were killed and several others grievously injured. Four more Indian soldiers were reported to be in a critical condition on Wednesday. The Indian casualties could go up further. The clashes lasted several hours till midnight. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were present in far greater numbers and armed with nail-studded iron rods and stones during the prolonged brawl.
In the “free-for-all” brawl, rival soldiers attacked and chased each other, with many falling into the Galwan rivulet located at an altitude of over 14,500-feet with steep ravines and gorges. Among 20 martyred Colonel Babu, Havildar K Palani and Sepoy Kundan Kumar Ohja died on the spot. Seventeen were critically injured at the stand-off location. Exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high-altitude terrain, they later succumbed to their injuries.
Thirty five casualties on Chinese side as per US intelligence
Official sources quoting US intelligence reports on Wednesday said that at least 35 died and have been injured on Chinese side during clash in Galwan Valley, reported PTI. The commanding officer of the Chinese Unit involved in the June 15 violent face-off, is among those killed, reported ANI quoting sources.
Opposition leaders demand Centre to address questions
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday asked why PM Modi is “silent” on the fierce clash between India and Chinese troops. “Why is the PM silent? Why is he hiding? Enough is enough. We need to know what has happened,” Gandhi said on Twitter. “How dare China kill our soldiers? How dare they take our land?” he said. Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Wednesday asked PM Modi when a ‘befitting reply’ to China will be given and urged him to reveal the truth behind the violent face-off in the Galwan valley.
Chinese military had conducted drills in mountainous region
China has recently conducted joint exercises keeping in mind the high-elevation mountainous region, The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Tibet Military Command said on Tuesday. This revelation come after a violent clash broke in the Galwan Valley region out at the China-India border on Monday. According to the Global Times, the exercise that featured multiple types of combat recently took place in the Nianqing Tanggula, or Nyenchen Tonglha mountains at an elevation of 4,700 meters.
US closely monitoring India-China border row
The United States on Tuesday said it is “closely monitoring” the situation between India and China. “Both India and China have expressed a desire to de-escalate, and we support a peaceful resolution of the current situation,” a State Department spokesperson said. Offering condolences for casualties of Indian soldiers, the spokesperson further said, “During their phone call on June 2, 2020, President Trump and Prime Minister Modi discussed the situation on the India-China border.”
United Nations expresses concern over India-China border clashes
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed concern on the reports of violent clashes between India and China on Line of Actual Control and urged both sides to exercise maximum restraint. Eri Kaneko, Associate Spokesperson of Guterres, said,”We take positive note of reports that the two countries have engaged to deescalate the situation.”
British High Commission encourages dialogue between India-China
“Clearly these are concerning reports. We encourage China and India to engage in dialogue on issues relating to the border – violence is in no-one’s interest,” said British High Commission spokesperson.
Tamil Nadu announces Rs 20 lakh solatium to kin of martyr
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswamy has announced a solatium of Rs 20 lakh to the family of the soldier, who lost his life in the border skirmish between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Ladakh. the Chief Minister stated one of the family members of the slain soldier K Palani who belonged to Ramanathapuram district will be offered a government job. Palaniswamy has also expressed condolences to the bereaved family. DMK president MK Stalin also condoled the death of the jawan.
What happened on the night of June 15
Indian authorities said that while the de-escalation process was underway, a violent face-off took place on June 15 night between Indian and Chinese troops leading to the death of 20 Indian soldiers.
“As part of efforts to talk to the Chinese side to honour their commitment made during the June 6 talks, 16 Bihar Commanding Officer Colonel Santosh, initiated talks with the Chinese side, asking them to go back further into their territory,” sources told ANI.
During the talks, the Chinese side started heated arguments with the Indian delegation and started an attack on the Indian side with stones, sticks with spikes and other sharp-edged tools with an intention to cause fatalities to the Indian side, they said.
Tensions are high at Line of Actual Control since last month when India inaugurated a critical road construction project north of Pangong Tso.
The inauguration irked China despite the fact that the road was well within the Indian territory and far from the Chinese claim
In the statement, Zhang demanded that the Indian military strictly restrain its frontline troops, immediately stop all “provocative” actions and work with the Chinese side towards the same goal.
“The sovereignty over the Galwan Valley area has always belonged to China,” said Zhang in the statement.
(With inputs from agencies)