In a a “violent face-off” that took place on Monday, 15 June night between India and China, at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed, ANI reported while citing government sources. Casualty numbers could rise, as per report.
The Indian Army earlier, had said that a “violent face-off took place” on Monday night between India and China, which killed one Commanding Officer and two soldiers at the Galwan Valley in Ladakh.
Further, In an amended statement, the army had also said the casualties were “on both sides”. Meanwhile, China has accused India of crossing the border first on Monday night and again on Tuesday.
Three of the deceased Indian soldiers have been identified as Colonel B Santosh Babu, Havildar Palani and Sepoy Ojha. This is the first such incident along the border with China in nearly 45 years. Four Indian soldiers had lost their lives in an ambush at Tulung La in Arunachal Pradesh in 1975.
In an only report about casualties on China side, the editor-in-chief of China’s Global Times tweeted saying that the “Chinese side also suffered casualties in the Galwan Valley physical clash”. Official number has not been released by China yet.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs has alleged that the face-off at Eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley was due to China’s attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the area. “On the late-evening and night of 15th June, 2020, a violent face-off happened as a result of an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo there,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said earlier in the day. “Both sides suffered casualties that could have been avoided had the agreement at the higher level been scrupulously followed by the Chinese side.”
The escalation between both India and China came at a time there were efforts were under way to defuse weeks of tension at the border. Tensions between the two countries heightened in May after Chinese troops clashed with the Indian Army at several points along the Line of Actual Control. India and China do not share a defined and demarcated border. Instead, there is the Line of Actual Control, which stretches thousands of kilometres from Ladakh all the way to Arunachal Pradesh.
The dispute between India and China centres around a strategic bridge being built near Daulat Beg Oldi, a military post south of the Karakoram Pass. China has reportedly asked India to stop building infrastructure even on its own side of the LAC. New Delhi, on the other hand, has asked Beijing to maintain the status quo on the border. In recent weeks, India and China have reportedly deployed additional troops along the LAC at North Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh.
Earlier in May, there were reports of China pitching tents near river Galwan, which was also a flashpoint between New Delhi and Beijing during the Sino-Indian war of 1962. Both India and China had deployed additional security forces in the area amid heightened tensions.
Last week, the two countries agreed to peacefully resolve the border-standoff after high-level military talks. The meeting was held at the Border Personnel Meeting Point in Moldo on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh.