Tribune News Service
New Delhi, June 16
Fragile peace along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China was shattered last night. As many as 20 Indian Army soldiers, including, an officer, have been killed in action while battling the Chinese at Galwan valley in Ladakh.
However, the count of those injured or missing in action is still not known.
Till 10 pm on Tuesday the Indian Army had confirmed three dead, Col Subhash Babu, the Commanding officer of the 16th battalion of the Bihar regiment, Havildar K Palani and Sepoy Ojha.
Authoritative sources told the Tribune the count is 20 dead.
More than 900 troops on each side were involved in a physical clash, which started Monday night, lasted several hours---in three phases---and ended on early hours of Tuesday. Most of the deaths have occurred as soldiers fell-off cliffs during a physical fight in the narrow Galwan valley into the river at an altitude of 15,000 feet. Some died due to hypothermia and other due to injuries.
Stones, Steel poles, bamboo poles with nails embed on them, were used by the Chinese, to attack the Indian troops. The Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) of China, have also suffered fatal casualties. There is no number to their casualties. Indian Army categorically said “no bullets were fired in clash”. The casualty would have been manifold had bullets been fired
Detailing the incident, sources said it occurred as an altitude of almost 15,000 feet. The Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) of China, which was in talks with Indian Army for both sides to withdraw from the forty---day long stand-off, had build a fresh post and set up arctic tents at vantage position on the south bank of the Galwan river. The post gave a clear view to Chinese of the vital 255 kms Darbuk Shayok Daulat Baig Oldie (DSDBO), India’s only link to Depsang, Murgo ad Karokaram pass. This was unacceptable to India. The post was some 5 km from the DSDBO road, the Galwan river flows in an east-to-west direction and joins the river Shyok.
Troops of the 16th battalion of the Bihar Regiment noticed this fresh military post near patrol point 14 and asked the Chinese to vacate. The number of Indian Troops was greater than the Chinese on the spot, a clash ensued. The PLA sent in reinforcements another clash ensued.
The disengagement plan decided on June 6 at the meeting of Corps Commander-level was to ask both sides to withdraw from Galwan valley.
However, on Tuesday PLA’s Western Theatre Command spokesperson Colonel Zhang Shuili made a fresh claim on Tuesday saying “China always owns sovereignty over the Galwan Valley region, and the Indian border defence troops are inconsistent with their words and seriously violated the agreements both countries have reached”.
Until now the Indian side had maintained that there was no dispute at Galwan and the LAC, which is not demarcated on ground, matched the Chinese claim line (CCL) proposed in 1956.
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