The bloodiest clashes between Indian and Chinese troupes at the Galwan Valley in Ladakh left 20 Indian soldiers dead, while four more are critical. Though China has thus far stayed on mum on the number of casualties on its side, several reports suggest the number could be anywhere between 35 and 43.
"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 was killed in action to 20," the Army said in its official statement on Tuesday.
Later on Tuesday night, the Ministry of External Affairs also issued a statement, saying 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, 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," the MEA said.
Among those killed on the Indian side was Colonel B Santosh Babu of the Bihar Regiment.
The clashes happened after Chinese troupes were told to move away from a location in the Galwan Valley as per an agreement, though as they were returning, the PLA troupes attacked the Colonel with stones, leading to big unarmed clashes between the two sides. As per reports, after engaging in stones and iron rod fight for several hours, which led to heavy casualties on both sides, the two sides disengaged around midnight of June 15 and 16. Images from the valley clearly show Chinese troops outnumbered Indian troops. Intense Chinese build-up is also seen from the China side. At least 200 military vehicles are seen on the ground on the Chinese side.
Meanwhile, China accused India of entering its side. Though there are no confirmed reports on the casualties on its Chinese side, its mouthpiece Global Times reported Chinese side also suffered "casualties" in the Galwan valley. However, the Chinese media, especially other state-owned platforms, downplayed the deadly skirmishes between Indian and Chinese troops.
India's news agency ANI reported sources saying that Indian intercepts revealed that around 43 Chinese troupes were either killed or suffered injuries in the clashes. The Chinese choppers were also seen along the LAC to airlift the dead soldiers.
US Intelligence has said that 35 Chinese troops died in the clashes, including a senior officer. ANI citing sources said the Commanding Officer of the Chinese Unit was also among those killed in the clashes. Meanwhile, India is analysing the overall situation and it's yet to come up with a government response against Chinese aggression.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has held a meeting with three Service Chiefs (Army, Navy & Air Force) and the Chief of Defence Staff today, and also spoke to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on the current situation.
Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has said the loss of soldiers in Galwan is "deeply disturbing and painful". "Our soldiers displayed exemplary courage and valour in the line of duty and sacrificed their lives in the highest traditions of the Indian Army," he added.