Indian army has announced that at least twenty of its soldiers were killed during a violent clash with the Chinese military. The incident occurred sometime late Monday on the disputed China – India border in the Himalayas.
This happened during a “de-escalation process” in Galwan Valley in the disputed Aksai Chin-Ladakh zone. There have been reports of troops on both sides piling up their numbers for weeks before chie commanders started the talks earlier in the month.
Although the Indian army initially reported only three deaths, they added on Tuesday an additional 17 “who were critically injured in the line of duty at the standoff location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain have succumbed to their injuries.”
Despite sharing the border for 40 years, these were the first casualties between the nations. According to the Indian army statement, there were deaths “on both sides,” but it didn’t comment on China’s number.
High-ranking military officials representing both sides are presently meeting to lower the tensions, the statement added.
“India and China have been discussing through military and diplomatic channels the de-escalation of the situation in the border area in Eastern Ladakh,” said India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava on Tuesday.
He said that top commanders had “agreed on a process for such de-escalation” during a “productive meeting” on Saturday, June 6, and that ground commanders held a meeting regarding the implementation.
“While it was our expectation that this would unfold smoothly, the Chinese side departed from the consensus to respect the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Galwan Valley,” he said.
“Both sides suffered casualties that could have been avoided had the agreement at the higher level been scrupulously followed by the Chinese side,” he added.
“Given its responsible approach to border management, India is very clear that all its activities are always within the Indian side of the LAC. We expect the same of the Chinese side. We remain firmly convinced of the need for the maintenance of peace and tranquility 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.”
At a news conference on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that on Monday, “Indian troops seriously violated our consensus and twice crossed the border line for illegal activities and provoked and attacked Chinese personnel which lead to serious physical conflict between the two sides.”
“China has lodged strong protest and representation with the India side, and we once again we solemnly ask the India side to follow our consensus and strictly regulate its front line troops and do not cross the line and do not stir up troubles or take unilateral moves that may complicate matters,” Zhao added.
“We both agreed to resolve this issue through dialogue and consolation and make efforts for easing the situation and upholding peace and tranquility in the border area.”
Zhao didn’t confirm nor deny any Chinese casualties.
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) released a statement Tuesday night calling on the Indian army to immediately stop what it described as “provocative actions” and to “resolve the issue through the correct track of dialogue and talks.”
“The sovereignty of the Galwan Valley region has always belonged to China,” spokesman of the Western Theater Zhang Shuili said in a statement.
“Indian troops violated its commitment, crossed the borderline for illegal activities and deliberately launched provocative attacks.”
Zhang added that the “serious physical conflict between the two sides” had “resulted in casualties.”
“We solemnly ask the India side to strictly regulate its front line troops, immediately stop all infringement and provocative actions, go toward the same direction with China, and return to the correct track of dialogue and talks to resolve differences,” the statement read.
“We have not had casualties on the Line of Actual Control for at least 45 years,” said Happymon Jacob, an associate professor and political analyst at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University. “This is perhaps a game-changer. This is perhaps the beginning of the end of the rapport that India has enjoyed with China for 45 years.”
Both New Delhi and Beijing accused the other of overstepping the LAC that stands divides two neighbors. The LAC runs between Aksai Chin controlled by China and the rest of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region.
The irregular border is the result of a dispute in 1962, with neither side agreeing precisely where it is or how long it is.
Aksai Chin is administered by China as part of Xinjiang but is also claimed by the Indian government as part of Ladakh.
Indian Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah told at a rally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) earlier this month that “any intrusion into the borders of India will be punished.”
“Some used to say that US and Israel were the only countries which were willing and capable of avenging every drop of the blood of their soldiers,” Shah said. “(Modi) has added India to that list.”
Quotes used from cnn.com.