NEW DELHI: Indian and Chinese soldiers were involved in a violent clash along the Line of Actual Control in the Galwan Valley on Monday night, leaving a commanding officer, a Colonel, and two jawans dead on the Indian side.
The dead have been identified as Colonel B Santosh Babu, Havildar K Palani and Sepoy Ojha.
The Army confirmed the incident and said, “During the de-escalation process underway in the Galwan Valley, a violent face-off took place yesterday night with casualties on both sides. The loss of lives on the Indian side includes an officer and two soldiers.”
The Army said there were casualties on the Chinese side as well "There was no firing. No firearms were used. It was violent hand-to-hand scuffles," an Army officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The editor-in-chief of the Global Times, which is a Chinese government mouthpiece, tweeted, "Based on what I know, Chinese side also suffered casualties in the Galwan Valley physical clash. I want to tell the Indian side, don’t be arrogant and misread China’s restraint as being weak."
Based on what I know, Chinese side also suffered casualties in the Galwan Valley physical clash. I want to tell the Indian side, don’t be arrogant and misread China’s restraint as being weak. China doesn’t want to have a clash with India, but we don’t fear it.— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) June 16, 2020
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh immediately held a meeting with Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, the three service chiefs and External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar.
"Rajnath Singh reviewed the current operational situation in Eastern Ladakh, consequent to yesterday's violent faceoff on the LAC, along with the CDS and the three Service chiefs," the Defence Ministry said in a statement.
A large number of Indian and Chinese troops had previously engaged in an eyeball-to-eyeball situation in Galwan Valley of eastern Ladakh over the last five weeks. Senior military officials of the two sides are currently meeting at the venue to defuse the situation, Army sources added.
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There are around 12,000 soldiers with heavy vehicles, artillery and armoured support equipment on both sides of the Line of Actual Control in a standoff position.
Earlier, soldiers from both countries clashed on four occasions, starting on the intervening night of May 5 and 6 when Chinese soldiers attacked Indian troops at the location between Finger 4 and Finger 5, along the Northern Flank of the Pangong Tso lake.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Indian troops "crossed the border line twice... provoking and attacking Chinese personnel, resulting in a serious physical confrontation between border forces on the two sides."
The incident comes days after Army Chief Gen MM Naravane said both sides have begun disengaging from the Galwan Valley.
The Indian and Chinese armies are engaged in a 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 the restoration of peace and tranquillity in the area.
Both sides held a series of talks in the last few days to resolve the row.
(With PTI and AFP Inputs)