Report By: Nandika Chand | Last Updated June 16, 2020
The Indian Army lost an officer (a colonel) and two jawans in a violent faceoff with Chinese troops in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley last night. This comes after a month-long standoff between the two countries along the Line of Actual Control. Last weekend, India and China’s officiers had been in dialogue and had agreed for de-escalation.
In an official statement, the Indian Army confirmed a violent face-off took place late last night (weeks hours of Monday night – early Tuesday morning) amid the de-escalation process in the Galwan Valley, opposite Tibet. “The loss of lives on the Indian side includes an officer and two soldiers,” it said. “Senior military officials of both sides are currently meeting at the venue to defuse the situation.” An Indian army officer told AFP there had been no shooting in the incident. He said it was violent hand-to-hand scuffles.So far, China has made no mention of any deaths or injuries of its soldiers. However, its being said that the Chinese side also ‘suffered casualties’.
The loss of lives is the first in 45-years. In recent weeks, Indian and China troops have been embroiled in a standoff. Both sides had deployed thousands of extra troops in the western Himalayan region. China and India last fought a full-scale war in this area in 1962. Both countries had an armed confrontation in 2013 and 2017.
According to Chinese media, Zhao Lijian – China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said Indian soldiers had crossed the border line twice on Monday. He said ‘provoking and attacking Chinese personnel’ resulted in ‘serious physical confrontation’ between border forces on the two side. Zhao said China had lodged solemn representations with India, urging it to ‘strictly refrain its frontline troops’ and avoid ‘stirring up trouble’ or making ‘unilateral moves’ that would escalate the situation.
China and India are also to be held equally responsible for the standoff since the ruling parties of both countries are ‘ultra-nationalists’. Recently, in a virtual political rally, Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah had said any intrusion into the borders of India will be punished. He said PM Narendra Modi has added India to the list of countries which are ‘willing and capable of avenging every drop of blood of their soldiers’. Even the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had declared that India’s leadership will not let the country’s self-respect suffer. “India’s policy is clear, we won’t hurt any country’s integrity and dignity,” he said.
The center of standoff between the India and China has been the construction of a 255-km road on the Indian side, with dozens of bridges providing strategic links.