At least 20 Indian soldiers, including Commanding Officer, had attained martyrdom in the violent clashes with the Chinese troopers in Eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, the Indian Army said on Tuesday. The Army had initially claimed that 3 soldiers, including one Commanding Officer, were killed in the skirmishes but later in the evening it revised the figure to 20 saying 17 others had succumbed to their injuries due to the prolonged exposure to sub-zero temperatures.
Though Beijing remained reticent on the number of casualties suffered by it, the Indian Government said that the Chinese side endured heavy casualties with close to 43-45 PLA soldiers been seriously injured or killed in the clashes. Now, a US intel report has stated that at least 35 Chinese soldiers have perished in the brawl at the Galwan Valley.
The killing of the Indian soldiers marks the Indian Army’s worst losses since the Kargil War in 1999 and signifies the most intense military combat between India and China since 1967 when about 80 Indian soldiers and at least 300 Chinese PLA troops were killed in the course of the savage skirmishes that broke out near the Nathu La and Cho Lo passes, the strategic gateway to the crucial Chumbi valley.
Here’s the sequence of the events, as informed by India Today journalist Shiv Aroor, that led to the violent clashes between India and China in Galwan Valley in the Eastern Ladakh:-
Timeline of the violent melee at the Galwan Valley
- Following Lieutenant General talks that concluded on June 6 between India and China, symbolic disengagement took place in an attempt to resolve the months-long border standoff in Eastern Ladakh region.
- After the token disengagement, the Chinese came back again mid-week and erected up a fresh tent, just in 2 days of the disengagement plan agreed between the two Generals. A brawl ensued between the soldiers of the two armies which resulted in the incineration of the Chinese tent.
- The Chinese troops returned only to come back with a larger platoon of troopers over the weekend. Stone pelting took place between the two sides on Sunday, June 14.
- Violent clashes broke out on Monday (June 15) evening at the brink with a high gorge towards the Galwan river. According to the sources, skirmishes intensified and many Indian soldiers jumped into the valley in a bid to save themselves. The military confrontation between the Indian and Chinese troopers took place a day before the Major Generals of the sides were going to meet to take the disengagement plan further ahead.
- As the Chinese refused to back off, an unarmed team of patrol led by Commanding Officer Colonel Babu of the 16 Bihar Regiment set out to discuss with the Chinese counterpart. However, the Chinese held their ground and refused to honour the agreed disengagement plan between the Lt Generals on June 6. The Chinese side deliberately stoked the situation by attacking the unarmed Indian patrol team with boulders, stones, iron rods, clubs wrapped in barbed wire and wooden logs with nails around them. The Indian team retaliated. The Indian military sources confirmed that no firearms were used in the clashes and that most of the injuries sustained were due to the stone-pelting and the use of iron rods by the Chinese side.
- The CO of the 16 Bihar Regiment sustained serious injuries in the initial attack by the Chinese troopers. He, along with an injured havaldar was immediately rescued and taken back, leaving behind the injured soldiers, who were taken captive by the Chinese side.
- After a hiatus of 40 minutes, a Major led the same unit to the site and mounted an attack against the Chinese intruders. Things escalated precipitously from that point onwards.
- The Indian troops attacked the Chinese soldiers with brute power and inflicted serious life-threatening injuries to about 55 Chinese soldiers. The bloody brawl resulted in many casualties on the Chinese side but the sources informed that the exact number of fatalities cannot be determined.
- The fighting was happening near the ridge and many of the soldiers perished after being pushed down the brink into the fast-moving Galwan river. The Indian unit was massively outnumbered by the Chinese, according to the sources. This is the moment when several casualties on the Indian and Chinese side happened. Sources also inform that there was a brigadier-level Chinese officer on the post waving for peace and asking the two sides to stop the clashes.
- Fierce fistfighting continued late into the night and stones, metal clubs wrapped in barbed wire were used, resulting in head injuries to many. The clash continued for about 3 hours.
- Fighting halted well past midnight. Bodies of the soldiers were fished from the river while many injured succumbed to their injuries by morning, sources said.
Following the violent clashes between the Indian and Chinese forces, the multiple Colonel-to-Colonel-level talks from both sides happened at the very same post during the day. The Indian Army has now taken over the control of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) posts.