Ladakh Standoff: 4 Indian soldiers critical, 20 martyred; US Intelligence says 35 casualties on Chinese side
New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Four Indian soldiers, who were injured during the violent clash with Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on Monday night, are in critical condition, news agency ANI quoted sources as saying.
Twenty Indian Army personnel including a colonel were killed in the clash, the biggest military confrontation in over five decades that has significantly escalated the already volatile border standoff in the region.
Meanwhile, the US Intelligence said that the Chinese side suffered 35 casualties including dead and injured.
News agency ANI quoted government sources saying that a Commanding Officer of the Chinese Unit was among the casualties China suffered during the face-off included.
The Army initially said on Tuesday that an officer and two soldiers were killed. But in a late evening statement it revised the figure to 20 saying 17 others who "were critically injured in the line of duty and exposed to sub-zero temperatures at the standoff location succumbed to their injuries."
On Tuesday, ANI claimed sources confirming that the Chinese side suffered 43 casualties including dead and injured, but the Indian Army did not confirm the same in its statement.
It did not say how the casualties occurred and did not mention any firefight between the two sides. Indian military sources said no firearms were used in the clashes and that most of the injuries were sustained following stone-pelting and use of rods by the Chinese side.
"Indian and Chinese troops have disengaged at Galwan area where they had earlier clashed on the night of 15-16 June. 17 Indian troops who were critically injured in the line of duty at 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. Indian Army is firmly committed to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation," the Army said in a statement.
On the other hand, China blamed India for the violent scuffle but remained tight-lipped on the casualties on its side. However, a PLA spokesperson and a top editor of the CCP mouthpiece Global Times said that China had suffered casualties.
The Indian Army officer killed in the clash was identified as Colonel Santosh Babu, Commanding Officer of the 16 Bihar regiment, while the two soldiers were K Palani and O Jha.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about last night's clash as well on the overall situation in eastern Ladakh after he held a high-level meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat and the three service chiefs.
The External Affairs Ministry said the violent face-off was the result of an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo in the region.
It said both sides suffered casualties that could have been avoided had the agreement arrived earlier at the higher level been scrupulously followed by the Chinese side.
"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," MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.
Reacting to the incident, China alleged that the Indian troops twice crossed the de-facto border on June 15 for "illegal activities and provoked and attacked Chinese personnel" which led to serious physical conflict.
"We once again solemnly ask the Indian side to follow our consensus, strictly regulate its front-line troops and do not cross the line, do not stir up troubles or make unilateral moves that may complicate matters," a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said.
Large number of Indian and Chinese troops were engaged in an eyeball-to-eyeball situation in Galwan Valley and certain other areas of eastern Ladakh for last five weeks.
The Indian and Chinese armies are engaged in the standoff in Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie in eastern Ladakh.
A sizeable number of Chinese Army personnel even transgressed into the Indian side of the de-facto border in several areas including Pangong Tso.
The Indian Army has been fiercely objecting to the Chinese transgressions, and demanded their immediate withdrawal for restoration of peace and tranquillity in the area.
Both sides held a series of talks in the last few days to resolve the row.
In their first serious efforts to end the row, Lt General Harinder Singh, the general officer commanding of the Leh-based 14 Corps, and Commander of the Tibet Military District Maj Gen Liu Lin held a nearly seven-hour meeting on June 6.The meeting was followed by two rounds of Major General-level talks.
The Indian side has been pitching for restoration of status quo ante and immediate withdrawal of thousands of Chinese troops from the areas which India considers on its side of the LAC.
Following the standoff in eastern Ladakh, the two sides have deployed additional troops along the LAC, the de-facto Sino-India border, in North Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh in the last few days.
A look back
After the standoff began early last month, the Indian military leadership decided that Indian troops will adopt a firm approach in dealing with the aggressive posturing by the Chinese troops in all disputed areas of Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie.
The Chinese Army has been gradually ramping up its strategic reserves in its rear bases near the LAC by rushing in artillery guns, infantry combat vehicles and heavy military equipment.
The trigger for the face-off was China's stiff opposition to India laying a key road in the Finger area around the Pangong Tso Lake besides construction of another road connecting the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in Galwan Valley.
The road in the Finger area in Pangong Tso is considered crucial for India to carry out patrol. India has already decided not to stall any border infrastructure projects in eastern Ladakh in view of Chinese protests.
The situation in the area deteriorated after around 250 Chinese and Indian soldiers were engaged in a violent face-off on May 5 and 6. The incident in Pangong Tso was followed by a similar incident in north Sikkim on May 9.
The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long LAC. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet, while India contests it.
Both sides have been asserting that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, it is necessary to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
Posted By: Abhinav Gupta