On Tuesday, government sources stated that at least 20 Indian Army personnel were killed, comprising of colonel, in the brutal face-off with Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley on Monday night. About the casualty figures which are indicated in the reports to be higher could not be confirmed officially.
The clash occurred amid a “de-escalation” process that began last week after a month-long face-off between troops at various points along the LAC in Ladakh and Sikkim.
On Tuesday, in a statement, the 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 Army stated that to relieve the situation senior military officials met at the spot of the clash.
According to sources, when the news of the violent clash which, included the use of iron clubs and rocks by the Chinese troops emerged, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the operational situation along with the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), the three Service chiefs and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
To brief Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the situation, Singh met him. Although neither Modi nor his Cabinet colleagues gave any statement on the issue.
Alleging Chinese troops of “attempting to unilaterally change the status quo” in the Galwan valley, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stated that the casualties “could have been avoided” if the Chinese troops had followed the agreements made by military commanders over the past week.
“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,” said MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) alleged India “of going back on its word” and “violating commitments” reached by both sides at Corps Commander level talks on June 6 in a statement.
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The Indian Army “violated its commitment and crossed the LAC again, illegally and deliberately launched provocative attacks, triggered a fierce physical confrontation between the two sides, resulting in casualties,” said PLA Western Theater Command spokesperson Zhang Shuili, and claimed that “the sovereignty of the Galwan valley region has always belonged to [China]”, something India has always disputed.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian quoted that China has “lodged strong protest and representation with the Indian side”. It is comprehended this was conveyed in meetings on Tuesday conducted between Indian Ambassador to China Vikram Misri and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui.
The casualties in combat action have escalated pressure on the government to make a full statement on the month-long face-off, as demanded by Opposition parties.