India China Violent Stand off at Galwan Valley, Loss of lives reported

In a massive escalation of tensions between India and China, at least 20 Indian Army soldiers, including a Colonel, were killed in a violent clash on Monday night with Chinese troops at the Galwan Valley in Ladakh during the de-escalation process that was underway.

India China 'Violent Stand-off' at Galwan Valley
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The number of casualties may rise as several soldiers are seriously injured. According to official sources, an unknown number of Indian soldiers, including officers, who were reportedly in the captivity of the Chinese Army were released after a high-level meeting between the two sides. India and China blamed the violent face-off on each other’s territorial ambitions.

Reportedly no shots were fired by the two armies in the clash. Indian and Chinese troops attacked each other using batons, iron rods and stones. The Chinese Army too suffered casualties, the Indian Army said, but there was no official confirmation. 

The Ministry of External Affairs said both sides suffered casualties that could have been avoided had the agreement arrived at earlier at the higher level been scrupulously followed by the Chinese side.

Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh also held meeting with Chief of Defence Staff and three service chiefs amidst China tensions. “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 said.

In a statement issued earlier on Tuesday, the Indian Army said, “During the de-escalation process underway in the Galwan Valley, a violent face-off took place yesterday night with casualties on both sides. The loss of lives on the Indian side includes an officer and two soldiers.”

Late on Tuesday evening the Army issued another statement, revising the casualty. “17 Indian troops who were critically injured in the line of duty at the stand off 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,” it said.

Chinese Army too suffered casualties but the Chinese government did not release its casualty figures. However, Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of Global Times, believed to be the mouthpiece of the government in Beijing, tweeted, “Based on what I know, the Chinese side also suffered casualties in the Galwan Valley physical clash.”

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However, American intelligence believes 35 Chinese troops died, including one senior officer, a report in the US News cited a source familiar with that assessment.

The relationship between Indian and China and the “spirit” of the informal summits at Wuhan and Mamallapuram in the past two years now lie in tatters following the latest deadly military clash between Indian and Chinese troops in the Ladakh sector.

As per the strategic guidance to be given by the leaders of the two nations to their militaries as previously decided, it is perhaps now left to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping to communicate directly to prevent a total outbreak of hostilities.

But the damage may run deeper, with India and China also part of several select multilateral fora such as BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation apart from the trilateral Russia, India, China forum. This also comes at a time when the two Asian giants were undertaking celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic ties.

The decision that had considerably improved bilateral ties in the past two years was the issue of “strategic guidance” that would be given by the two leaders to their respective militaries to “build trust” between the two militaries.

It had also been earlier decided there would be no more “aggressive patrolling” by the two armies on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The US and India have been in close touch since May 5, when confrontation between the Indian Army Chinese troops began in eastern Ladakh. Since then, China has substantially increased deployment of soldiers along the Line of Actual Control. President Donald Trump has offered to mediate between India and China. However, Indian officials have denied seeking any intervention from the US government and have emphasized that they would like to take up the matter with China directly.

1967: A total of 80 Indian soldiers and about 400 Chinese soldiers were killed in action at Nathu La in September 1967, during the bloodiest clashes since the 1962 war.

1975: Four Assam Rifles jawans were killed when their patrol was ambushed by Chinese soldiers at Tulung La in Arunachal Pradesh on Oct 20, 1975 .

In order to discuss the situation in the India-China border areas, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for an all-party meeting at 5 PM on June 19.

Expressing anger over the violent clash in the valley, Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh called for a strong response from the government of India to the repeated violation by the Chinese.

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