34 Indian soldiers missing, believed to be dead or captured: Report
After a violent confrontation between the armies of India and China in the Galwan Valley last night, “thirty-four Indian soldiers are also missing – believed to either be dead or captured,” reported the Telegraph, quoting unnamed senior Indian Army sources.
The report titled, ‘Three Indian soldiers killed in hand-to-hand fighting on Chinese border’ says that the development has not been confirmed by the government yet.
However, the army confirmed that in the “violent face-off” an Indian officer and two army men were killed.
As per the Indian army statement, “during the de-escalation process underway in the Galwan Valley, a violent face-off took place yesterday night with casualties. The loss of lives on the Indian side includes an officer and two soldiers. Senior military officials of the two sides are currently meeting at the venue to defuse the situation.”
Reports also suggest that five soldiers of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were killed and 11 others injured.
Taking to micro-blogging site Twitter, Global Times reporter, Wang Wenwen, said that no bullets were fired and it was hand-to-hand combat. Wenwen cited reports saying that the incident took place at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on the China-India border on June 15.
After an Indian army officer and two soldiers were killed at the Galwan Valley in a violent clash in Ladakh, China has accused India of crossing the border and attacking Chinese personnel.
China has also called on India to “not take unilateral actions or stir up trouble.”
“Indian troops seriously violated the consensus of the two sides by illegally crossing the border twice and carrying out provocative attacks on Chinese soldiers, resulting in serious physical clashes,” Global Times, quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian as saying.
The armies of India and China are locked in a tense standoff at three points in eastern Ladakh, wherein China has reportedly occupied 60 sq. kilometres of territory claimed by India.
Recently, the Indian Army Chief had said, “situation along our borders with China is under control”, adding that a series of meetings between senior military commanders from both sides had resulted in “a lot of disengagement” and that “all perceived differences that we (India and China) have will be set to rest”.
India and China are currently engaged in military level talks to disengage in the Ladakh region where tensions have been building up. Armies of both countries have gotten into fist fights in the high altitude region.
Indian side maintains that both parties have mutually agreed to pull back troops, but accept that tension in the Pangong Tso region remains.
Chinese government mouthpiece has been upping its rhetoric while the PLA has been moving heavy weaponry to the border and conducting military drills.
A Chinese diplomat reacting to the standoff in Ladakh has said that the move is linked to the Indian government’s unilateral decision to scrap Article 370 in August last year.
The move changed the laws that prohibited Indians from buying land in Kashmir, and made the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir defunct, triggering fears of demographic change in the Muslims majority region of Kashmir.
When India scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5 last year, the Chinese foreign ministry had issued two statements criticising the development, including one that focused on the splitting of the state into union territories.
This statement, while urging India to be “cautious” on the border issue and to avoid “actions that further complicate the border issue”, said: “China has always opposed India’s inclusion of Chinese territory in India’s administrative jurisdiction in the western part of the Sino-Indian border.” This was a reference to the area in Ladakh that New Delhi claims but is controlled by Beijing.
Free Press Kashmir is now on Telegram. Click here to Join.