iNDICA NEWS BUREAU
At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the “violent face-off with China in Galwan valley in Eastern Ladakh”, several Indian media outlets including news agency ANI and the television channel India Today reported Tuesday before the Indian Army officially confirmed it.
Both India Today and ANI, quoting “government sources”, said the toll “could be higher”.
ANI also said, citing unnamed officials quoting “Chinese intercepts”, that the People’s Liberation Army suffered 43 fatalities.
“Indian and Chinese troops have disengaged at the Galwan area where they had earlier clashed on the night of 15/16 June 2020,” the Indian Army said in a statement. “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. Indian Army is firmly committed to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation.”
This is the highest death toll ever in the India-China border standoff since the two countries fought in the 1962 war, and the first time Indian soldiers have been reportedly killed in clashes with their Chinese counterparts since 1975.
Initially, the Indian Army confirmed three deaths, of a Colonel and two soldiers.
India’s ministry of external affairs said then in a statement that “an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo” at Galwan Valley resulted in a “violent face-off” in which there were “casualties on both sides”.
Before India’s statement, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing that Indian troops had twice crossed the border Monday and attacked Chinese personnel.
“They provoked and attacked the Chinese side, leading to a severe physical brawl,” he said.
As a result of agreements reached through years of dialogue, Indian and Chinese troops do not use firearms against each other.
“We again solemnly request that India follows the relevant attitude and restrains its frontline troops. Do not cross the border, do not provoke trouble, do not take any unilateral action that would complicate the border situation,” he added.
Last week there were reports in the Indian media that the country’s army had rushed fighting formations to its northern frontiers after China built up its troop formations all across its 2,520-mile border with India.