The Chinese military’s statement on the violent clash in eastern Ladakh has claimed sovereignty over the entire Galwan valley.
“The sovereignty over the Galvan Valley area has always belonged to China,” said PLA western theatre command spokesperson Colonel Zhang Shiuli.
While a Chinese map of 1962 extends its boundary up to the Shyok river – the zone of contention today – for India, Galwan was always seen as an area where the lay of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was not disputed, unlike in other places like Pangong Tso, where there were overlapping claims.
A bloody and violent hand-to-hand fight raged across the Galwan Valley between Indian soldiers and the Chinese Army that left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead.
The People’s Liberation Army assault teams armed with iron rods and batons wrapped in barbed wire hunted down and slaughtered troops of the 16 Bihar Regiment, a senior government official familiar with the debriefing of survivors at hospitals in Leh News18 reported.
“Even unarmed men who fled into the hillsides were hunted down and killed,” one officer said. “The dead include men who jumped into the Galwan river in a desperate effort to escape.”
Four Indian army men are in critical condition after violent clashes with Chinese troops at eastern Ladakh on Monday evening, news agency ANI reported. Earlier the Army had confirmed that 20 soldiers were killed in the fight at Galwan Valley in Ladakh.
The government has also given powers to the armed forces to make emergency procurements to stock up its war reserves amid tension building up on the LAC with China, a day after 20 Indian soldiers were killed.
Economic Times reported that the government did not want to leave anything to chance at this stage, especially after the violence on Monday night.
The report claimed that Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat has been asked to coordinate with the three services on prioritising the requirements, where necessary.
“The Navy has also been given the go-ahead to deploy its assets near the Malacca Strait and, if needed, anywhere else in the Indo-Pacific to counter Chinese action. Air Force assets, including fighters, too have been moved up to forward locations,” the report claimed.
Earlier, Defence Minister of India Rajnath Singh held a meeting with General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff, External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar, and three service chiefs over recent developments between Indian and Chinese armies at Galwan Valley in Ladakh, as reported by Times of India.
The external affairs ministry has said the escalation in Galwan Valley of Ladakh happened “as a result of an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo there”.
A statement by Army read that senior military officials of both sides are engaged in a meeting to defuse the situation.
Reports also suggest that soldiers of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were killed and injured.
China has accused India of crossing the border and attacking Chinese personnel, and called on India to “not take unilateral actions or stir up trouble.”
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”.
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.
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