Indian army soldiers walk past their parked trucks at a makeshift transit camp before heading to Ladakh, near Baltal, southeast of Srinagar on June 16. (Courtesy picture: Reuters/Stringer)
New Delhi: Twenty Indian soldiers including a Colonel laid down their lives for India in a "violent face-off" on Monday night with Chinese troops at Ladakh's Galwan valley, the Army has said in a statement.
The Chinese side has suffered 43 casualties, news agency ANI said citing sources, in the most serious escalation at the border in five decades, at a time soldiers of both sides were in the process of disengagement.
Earlier, Army had reported that an Indian Colonel and two soldiers were killed in action in a massive escalation at a time there were efforts to defuse weeks of tension at the border. India retaliated and there were casualties on both sides, said the army. Army sources say the soldiers were not shot but were killed in a physical fight on Indian Territory that involved stones and batons.
The Army has said that the 17 Indian soldiers, who were critically injured in the line of duty at the standoff location, have died of their injuries.
"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 standoff 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 Army said in a statement.
"Indian Army is firmly committed to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation," the Army statement added.
43 Chinese casualties, Reports ANI
Indian intercepts have revealed that Chinese side suffered 43 casualties including dead and seriously injured in the face-off, news agency ANI has reported citing sources.
After the death of three soldiers, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday: "A violent face-off happened as a result of an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo there".
Colonel B. Santosh Babu, Havildar Palani and Sepoy Ojha were killed in the clashes that took place just as Chinese troops were getting ready to move away from a location per an agreement.
The Colonel was reportedly assaulted with stones and Indian soldiers retaliated, which led to close unarmed combat for several hours. The soldiers disengaged after midnight.
In response to media queries on the situation in the western sector of the India-China border, India's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, "India and China have been discussing through military and diplomatic channels the de-escalation of the situation in the border area in Eastern Ladakh.
"Senior Commanders had a productive meeting on 6th June 2020 and agreed on a process for such de-escalation. 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 15th June, 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.
"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.
"We remain firmly convinced of the need for the 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."
Source: News Agencies
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