An Indian colonel and two soldiers were killed in violent face-off with the Chinese troops at Galwan valley in Ladakh on Monday night. Army sources said that the soldiers were not shot but were killed in hand- to- hand combat on the Indian Territory.
The incident occurred during an escalation process in the Galwan valley in the disputed Aksai Chin-Ladakh area, where a large troop build-up has reportedly been taking place for weeks now on both sides of the border before senior military commanders began talks earlier this month. According to the Indian Army, there was the loss of life on both sides, including an Indian officer and two soldiers. They did not specify Chinese casualties. The senior military officials from both sides are currently meeting to defuse the situation.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Monday “Indian troops seriously violated our consensus and twice crossed the borderline for illegal activities and provoked and attacked Chinese personnel which led to serious physical conflict between two sides. Zhao also said, “China has lodged strong protest and representation with the India side, and we once again 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.” He added that “We both agreed to resolve the issue through dialogue and consolation and make efforts for easing the situation and upholding peace and tranquillity in the border area.”
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Tensions have been growing in the Himalayas along with one of the world’s longest land borders since last month, with New Delhi and Bejing both accusing the other of stepping the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that separates the two nuclear-armed neighbours. The territory has long been disputed, erupting into numerous minor conflicts and diplomatic spats since the war between the two countries in 1962. The LAC runs between Chinese- controlled Aksai Chin and the rest of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region. The rough borderline was the result of the India China border dispute in 1962, but neither side agrees exactly where it is or how long it is.
The war of 1962
On October 20, 1962, China’s People’s Liberation Army invaded India in Ladakh, and across the McMahon Line in the then North-East Frontier Agency. Till the start of the war, the Indian side was confident that war would not be started and thus mad very little preparations. Thinking this, India deployed only two divisions of troops in the region of the conflict, while the Chinese troops had three regiments positioned.
The Chinese also cut Indian telephone lines, preventing the defenders from making contact with their headquarters. On the first day, the Chinese infantry also launched an attack from the rear. The continued losses forced the Indian troops to escape to Bhutan. On October 22, the Chinese lighted a bush which caused a lot of confusion among Indians. Some 400 Chinese troops attacked the Indian position. The initial Chinese assault was stopped by accurate Indian mortar fire. When the Indian army discovered that a Chinese force gathered in a pass, it opened fire with mortars and machine guns and killed about 200 Chinese soldiers. On October 26, a patrol from the 4th Sikhs was encircled, and after they were unable to break the encirclement, an Indian unit sneaked in and attacked the Chinese army and freed the Sikhs.
Thus, as a result of China’s official military history, the war achieved China’s policy objectives of securing borders in its western sectors.