New Delhi: The Indian Army on Tuesday (June 16, 2020) said that at least 20 soldiers have been martyred during the violent face-off with the Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on Monday night.
Though the Army did not elaborate on the exact number, it said that almost the same number of Chinese troops have been killed during the clashes in the Galwan Valley.
"Indian and Chinese troops have disengaged at the Galwan area where they had earlier clashed on the night of 15/16 June 2020. 17 Indian troops who were critically injured in the line of duty at the stand-off location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain have succumbed to their injuries, taking the total that were killed in action to 20. The Indian Army is firmly committed to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation," the India Army said in an official release.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has, meanwhile, blamed China for the incident and alleged that it tried to unilaterally change the status and "departed from the consensus to respect the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Galwan Valley".
Speaking on the issue, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said both sides suffered casualties in the violent face-off and the Chinese side departed from the consensus to respect the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Galwan Valley.
Responding to media queries on the situation in the western sector of the India-China border, Srivastava said that India and China have been discussing through military and diplomatic channels the de-escalation of the situation in the border area in Eastern Ladakh.
He said commanders of two sides had a productive meeting on June 6 and agreed on a process for such de-escalation and subsequently ground commanders had a series of meetings to implement the consensus reached at a higher level.
"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. On the late evening and night of June 15, 2020, a violent face-off happened as a result of an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo there. Both sides suffered casualties that could have been avoided had the agreement at the higher level been scrupulously followed by the Chinese side," he said.
Srivastava said that 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," he said.
The MEA spokesperson said that India remains firmly convinced of the need for maintenance of peace and tranquillity 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," he said.
It may be noted that Colonel Santosh Babu, the Commanding Officer of 16, Bihar Regiment, Havildar K Pazhani and Sepoy Kundan Kumar Ojha laid down their lives during the skirmish with the Chinese Army on Monday night.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held two review meetings over developments in eastern Ladakh during the day. A meeting was held at the residence of Defence Minister in the evening which was attended by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and Army Chief General MM Naravane.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also earlier met Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the Indian Army’s standoff with Chinese troops in Ladakh's Galwan Valley saw violent escalation.
This is the first big Indian casualty in a border skirmish with the People’s Liberation Army since October 1975 when Chinese troops ambushed an Indian patrol in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tulung La sector and shot four soldiers dead.