PLA ambushes Indian Army patrol out to inspect Chinese troops’ retreat as per pact to disengage in Galwan
In a major setback to defuse month-long tension at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, 20 Indian soldiers, including a core commander, were stoned and bludgeoned to death in a violent face-off with the Chinese troops on Monday evening in the Galwan valley.
At least a dozen more Indian soldiers are reported to be injured in the incident. Indian Government sources and Chinese media claimed that the Chinese side also suffered casualties in the Ladakh face-off, but they didn’t give any number.
This is the first-ever such an incident resulting in death in the last 40 years. Major General rank officers of the two sides are now talking to each other to prevent the issue from escalating. Both India and China have issued official statements accusing each other of taking provocative steps.
Throughout the day the Indian Army maintained only three casualties and identified them as Colonel B Santosh Babu, Havildar Palani and sepoy Ojha.
However, in a late-night statement, the Indian Army confirmed “17 Indian jawans who were critically injured in the line of duty at the standoff location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain have succumbed to their injuries, taking the total that were killed in action to 20.”
The Indian Army said Indian and Chinese troops have disengaged at the Galwan valley area where they had earlier clashed on the night of June 15-16. “Indian Army is firmly committed to protecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation,” the statement said.
Reports said that the India patrol team was ambushed when it was on a mission near the Galwan valley to inspect if the Chinese had retreated as per the understanding reached between the two sides during several rounds of talks.
Insisting that there was no firing from either side, sources said that Chinese soldiers attacked the Indian jawans with stones, nail-studded rods and clubs, and duster knives.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the situation at the border via video call after a meeting with Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, the three military chiefs and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
Giving details of the incident earlier in the day, the Army said, “During the de-escalation process underway in the Galwan valley, a violent face-off took place yesterday night with casualties.
The loss of lives on the Indian side includes an officer and two soldiers.” Senior military officials of the two sides are currently meeting at the venue to defuse the situation.
However, the Chinese said the Indian troops crossed the LAC on Monday night and deliberately launched provocative attacks triggering violent physical conflict resulting in casualties.
In response to media queries on the situation, the External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, “After the productive talks between Corps Commanders, while it was our expectation that this would unfold smoothly, the Chinese side departed from the consensus to respect the LAC in the Galwan Valley.
On the late-evening and night of June 15, a violent face-off happened as a result of an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo there. Both sides suffered casualties that could have been avoided had the agreement at the higher level been scrupulously followed by the Chinese side, he said.
Given its responsible approach to border management, India is very clear that all its activities are always within the Indian side of the LAC. We expect the same of the Chinese side,” he said.
Giving the sequence of events in the last few days to de-escalate the situation, he said,
“India and China have been discussing through military and diplomatic channels the de-escalation of the situation in the border area in Eastern Ladakh.
“We remain firmly convinced of the need for the maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas and the resolution of differences through dialogue. At the same time, we are also strongly committed to ensuring India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.
The clashes are considered to be very serious as soldiers died on the LAC after more than 40 years, took place even as the two sides were holding diplomatic and military parleys to end the stand-off in the Galwan valley and three other sites in Eastern Ladakh. The entire frontage of these face-offs is between 25 to 30 km.
Reports said that both armies had already started withdrawing their troops partially in the last few days even before the high-level talks between Lt General Harinder Singh and Major General Liu Lin. The two Corps Commanders decided to begin mutual pull back from Patrolling Points 14, 15, 17A and Gogra areas.
Army Chief General MM Naravane had said last week had said, troops of India and China are “disengaging” in a phased manner from the standoff areas along the border following the series of ground talks and lot of disengagement has happened in the Galwan river area.
The only admission of casualties on the Chinese side so far has come from the editor of their government mouthpiece Global Times. “Based on what I know, Chinese side also suffered casualties in the Galwan Valley physical clash. I want to tell the Indian side, don’t be arrogant and misread China’s restraint as being weak. China doesn’t want to have a clash with India, but we don’t fear it,” tweeted Hu Xijin, Editor-in-Chief of Global Times.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing, in an aggressive statement, accused India of crossing the border, “attacking Chinese personnel” and said India should not take unilateral actions or stir up trouble. “What’s shocking is that on June 15, the Indian side severely violated our consensus and twice crossed the border line and provoked and attacked the Chinese forces, causing a violent physical confrontation between the two border forces,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing. “China is raising strong opposition and stern representations to the Indian side on this,” he said.
Wednesday, 17 June 2020 | PNS | New Delhi
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