A senior government official conversant with the debriefing of survivors at hospitals in Leh revealed that the assault of the Indian soldiers by China’s PLA hit team was premeditated as they had carried iron batons and clubs wrapped in barbed wire to attack the troops of the 16 Bihar Regiment.
As quoted by News18, the official said fierce fistfighting took place at the Galwan river valley for about 8 hours on Monday night as the death squad of PLA armed with weapons hunted down unarmed Indian soldiers and slaughtered them.
The official said that even the Indian soldiers who were at the hillside were systematically chased down by the murderous PLA soldiers armed with crude weapons. Many of the soldiers died after falling into the Galwan river.
The brutal combat between the soldiers of two armies have confirmed to have claimed lives of at least 23 Indian soldiers, including the Commanding Officer of 16 Bihar Regiment, Colonel Santosh Babu and many others, partly also because of the extended exposure to sub-zero temperatures, the Indian Army said on Tuesday.
According to the government source cited in the report, at least two dozen soldiers are critically injured and battling for their lives and more than 110 needed treatment. “The death toll will likely go up,” a military officer familiar with the severity of the carnage said.
The Chinese side have also suffered heavy casualties as Indian soldiers fought back and defended Indian territory. Sources say that as many as 43 have been deemed casualties and the number could be far more, though China is not confirming the numbers.
Skirmish between Indian and Chinese soldiers at Galwan valley
The savage combat between the Indian and Chinese soldiers at the Galwan Valley touched off after Indian troopers under the leadership of Colonel Babu reportedly demolished a Chinese tent erected near a position code-named Patrol Point 14, in the vicinity of the mouth of the Galwan river. The Chinese tent was pulled apart under the disengagement plan agreed after the meeting between Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, who commands the Leh-based XIV Corps, and Major-General Lin Liu, the head of the Xinjiang military district.
However, just in a span of 2 days of the disengagement plan agreed between the two Generals, the PLA constructed a new tent at Patrol Point 14, on a territory claimed by India. As per government sources quoted by media reports, Colonel Babu’s unit was given the responsibility of getting the fresh tent put up by the Chinese removed.
However, the Chinese bailed on the earlier agreed disengagement plan and denied vacating the Patrol Point 14 which resulted in a brawl in which the Chinese tent was incinerated, the government sources claim.
The sources added that the destruction of the Chinese there were some skirmishes between the troops and Sunday and then on Monday night, Chinese soldiers from the PLA had attacked by stealth on Indian troops. As per a report in Navbharat Times, massive rocks and stones were hurled at the Indian side from the ridge above Point 14, sources said.
The killing marks the highest losses of the Indian Army since the Kargil war in 1999 and represent the most fierce border brawl between India and China since 1967, when 88 Indian soldiers and as many as 340 PLA soldiers perished during the clashes near the Nathu La and Cho La passes, the strategic points along India’s eastern border with China.
Chinese casualties in the clashes at Galwan Valley
Though Beijing has been tight-lipped about the casualties endured by the Chinese side in the skirmishes at Galwan Valley, unofficial reports suggest at least 43 Chinese troopers have been killed in the brawl. According to a US intel report, 35 PLA personnel have perished in the border skirmish.
As per the latest reports, a Chinese Commanding Officer was also among those killed. ANI has cited Army sources as saying that casualties on the Chinese side may be significant.
It is notable here that the LAC falls under extremely difficult terrain where maintaining supply lines and provisions are very difficult. While Army sources quoted in media have stated that the casualties may go up, given the harsh conditions and exposure, there are also speculations on whether the hostility between the troops will now escalate further.