Colonel, 2 Jawans Killed in Ladakh Face-Off, Casualties "On Both Sides": 10 Points

Army sources say the soldiers were not shot but were killed in hand-to-hand combat on Indian Territory.

Indian and Chinese soldiers have been locked in a standoff for weeks

Highlights

  • Indian Colonel, 2 soldiers killed in "violent face-off"
  • Clash with Chinese soldiers at Galwan valley in Ladakh
  • Major Generals of both sides meet to defuse situation
New Delhi: Three Indian soldiers, Colonel B Santosh Babu, Havildar Palani and Sepoy Ojha, were killed in a "violent face-off" on Monday night with Chinese troops at Galwan Valley in Ladakh, in a massive escalation in the middle of 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 foreign ministry said the clashes happened "as a result of an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo there". Major Generals of both sides met to de-escalate tension after the clashes, according to an official statement. This is the first violent incident involving fatalities since 1975 between India and China, who fought a border war in 1962.

Here are 10 developments in this big story:

  1. The army statement said: "During the de-escalation process underway in the Galwan Valley, a violent face-off took place yesterday night with casualties on both sides. The loss of lives on the Indian side includes an officer and two soldiers. Senior military officials of the two sides are currently meeting at the venue to defuse the situation."

  2. Accusing China of trying to "unilaterally change status quo" in the region, the foreign ministry said: "India is very clear that all its activities are always within the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control. We expect the same of the Chinese side."

  3. Colonel B.Santosh Babu of the Bihar regiment was from Telangana. The jawans who lost their lives were Havildar Palani from Tamil Nadu and Sepoy Ojha from Jharkhand. There was no shootout, say sources, on the clashes that caused "significant casualties" on the Chinese side. "There was no firing. No firearms were used. It was violent hand-to-hand scuffles," an unnamed officer was quoted by news agency Agence France Presse as saying. The clash 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.

  4. The only admission of casualties on the Chinese side so far has come from the editor of their government mouthpiece Global Times. "Based on what I know, Chinese side also suffered casualties in the Galwan Valley physical clash. I want to tell the Indian side, don't be arrogant and misread China's restraint as being weak. China doesn't want to have a clash with India, but we don't fear it," tweeted Hu Xijin, Editor-in-Chief of Global Times.

  5. Beijing, in an aggressive statement, accused India of crossing the border, "attacking Chinese personnel", reported AFP. China's Foreign Ministry was quoted by Reuters as saying India should not take unilateral actions or stir up trouble.

  6. "What's shocking is that on June 15, the Indian side severely violated our consensus and twice crossed the border line and provoked and attacked the Chinese forces, causing a violent physical confrontation between the two border forces," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing. "China is raising strong opposition and stern representations to the Indian side on this," he said.

  7. In a day of high-level meetings, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Home Minister Amit Shah in the evening. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh briefed PM Modi after a meeting with Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, the three military chiefs and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. Rajnath Singh also met the military chiefs for the second time in the evening.

  8. For more than six weeks now soldiers from both sides have been engaged in a stand-off at least two locations along the Line of Actual Control -- the 3,488 km de-facto boundary between India and China, and have rushed additional troops to the border. They have been facing each other at the Galwan River, which was one of the early triggers of the 1962 India-China war, and at the Pangong Tso -- a glacial lake at 14,000 feet in the Tibetan plateau.

  9. After weeks of face-off including an incident in which patrolling soldiers clashed on the banks of Pangong Lake, resulting in injuries, friction eased following talks. Indian and Chinese military commanders had been in talks in Galwan Valley area and Hot Springs. The Chinese Army had earlier pulled back its troops from the Galwan valley, PP-15 and Hot Springs in Eastern Ladakh area. The Indian side also brought back some of its troops and vehicles from these areas.

  10. China has been upset about the Indian construction of roads and air strips in the area. The government has pushed for improving connectivity and by 2022, 66 key roads along the Chinese border will have been built. One of these roads is near the Galwan valley that connects to Daulat Beg Oldi air base, which was inaugurated last October. Chinese military spokesperson colonel Zhang Shuili on Tuesday claimed "China always owns sovereignty over the Galwan Valley region".