Indo-China Standoff: All the details you need to know

June 15 India: Indo-China Standoff; Details you need to know.

A violent clash between Indian and Chinese troops which occurred at Ladakh’s Galwan Valley on June 15 killed 20 Indian jawans including the commanding officer of the 16 Bihar Regiment, Colonel B. Santosh Babu.

While Colonel Babu and two other officers died on spot, the 17 other soldiers succumbed to injuries the day after.

This was by far the most dangerous clash since 1967, when both parties had clashed at the Nathu La border area.

For more than 40 decades since 1967, although standoffs have taken place along the disputed border area, they have never resulted in such fatal clashes.

Tensions between the two countries had been escalating since the beginning of May this year, when the two forces clashed at Pangong Tso in Ladakh on May 5th. And again on 10th May, a face-off took place at the Muguthang Valley in Sikkim.

On 21st May, Chinese troops entered the Galwan Valley on the pretext of objecting to the construction of an Indian road. On May 24th Chinese troops set up camps at Hot Springs, Patrolling Point 14 and Patrolling Point 15.

The Indian side claims that Chinese troops had been constructing “structures” on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

On June 6 military officials from both sides reached an agreement to de-escalate tensions.

The matter took a serious turn when on June 15 Indian troops headed by Colonel Babu went to patrol PP14 to check whether Chinese troops had moved back from the LAC as per the June 6 agreement.

Although Chinese troops were minimised along the PP14, seeing two small tents and observation posts in the area, Indian troops demolished those. It is then that the fatal clash occurred.

Chinese troops confronting their Indian counterparts initiated the clash with nail studded iron rods and the Indian troops countered. The Indian Army wasn’t heavily armed following agreements signed in 1993, 1996 and others.

“In case of contingencies or other problems arising in the areas along the line of actual control, the two sides shall deal with them through meetings and friendly consultations between border personnel of the two countries. The form of such meetings and channels of communications between the border personnel shall be mutually agreed upon by the two sides.” states the September 7, 1993 agreement.

It further states, “Both sides shall work out through consultations effective confidence-building measures in the areas along the line of actual control. Neither side will undertake specified levels of military exercises in mutually identified zones. Each side shall give the other prior notification of military exercises of specified levels near the line of actual control permitted under this Agreement.”

Another agreement signed in 1996 states “Neither side shall open fire, cause bio-degradation, use hazardous chemicals, conduct blast operations or hunt with guns or explosives within two kilometres from the line of actual control. This prohibition shall not apply to routine firing activities in small arms firing ranges.”

If the border personnel of the two sides come in a face-to-face situation due to differences on the alignment of the line of actual control or any other reason, they shall exercise self-restraint and take all necessary steps to avoid an escalation of the situation. Both sides shall also enter into immediate consultations through diplomatic and/or other available channels to review the situation and prevent any escalation of tension.” It further states.

Although shots were not fired from either side maintaining agreements signed in the past, there were casualties on both sides resulting from physical fights. The clash continued for several hours from 15th evening past midnight. 18 Indian soldiers were heavily injured and are undergoing treatment while 58 had minor injuries.

According to intelligence sources, more than 40 casualties have happened on the Chinese side although China has sought to keep silent on it.

In the clashes, 10 Indian soldiers including 4 officers had been captivated by the Chinese PLA. Following the June 15 clashes, Leh based 3 Infantry Division Commander Major General Abhijit Bapat led negotiations with his Chinese counterparts for the de-escalating of the ongoing tensions along the LAC. Following it, the 10 soldiers were also released. However, Bejing has said in a press conference that China has not captured any Indian soldiers.