The stand-off at Ladakh’s Galwan Valley has escalated in recent weeks due to the infrastructure projects that India has undertaken in the recent years.
A violent face-off took place between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley on Monday night in which 20 Indian soliders were killed. Defence minister Rajnath Singh issued a statament on Wednesday in which he mourned the loss of lives of 20 soldiers.
In his first comments since the clashes on Monday, Singh said that the loss of soldiers in Galwan is “deeply disturbing and painful”. He also said that India will never forget the bravery and sacrifice of soldiers who displayed exemplary courage and valour in the line of duty and sacrificed their lives. Singh had briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday evening and held two other meetings with the Chief of Defence Staff and the three service chief.
News agency ANI quoting sources said four Indian soldiers are in critical condition after the face-off.
The US media quoted reported from its intelligence officials to say that 35 Chinese troops have been killed in the clashes.
The troops fought each other with fists and rocks, people aware of the development said. Neither side fired any shots in the clash, they added.
After the clash, the two sides “disengaged” from the area where the fighting happened, the army said in a statement.
A protest was held outside the Chinese embassy in New Delhi on Wednesday.
The stand-off at Ladakh’s Galwan Valley has escalated in recent weeks due to the infrastructure projects that India has undertaken in the recent years. India is building a strategic road through the Galwan Valley – close to China – connecting the region to an airstrip.
China is opposed to any Indian construction in the area. In 1962, a stand-off in the Galwan area was one of the biggest flashpoints of the 1962 war, according to news agency Reuters.
India last year abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution, thereby ending the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. It further bifurcated the erstwhile state into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. China was among the handful of countries to strongly condemn the move, raising it at international forums including the UN Security Council.
Beijing said the move violated Chinese sovereignty but will also not change the situation on the ground as part of the area in the former state remains under Chinese control.
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 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 border row.