Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday demanded to know about the violent confrontation between Indian and Chinese armies along the undefined Line of Actual Control (LAC) at Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh.
The Indian Army has said 20 of its soldiers, including a commanding officer, had been killed in clashes with Chinese troops in a major escalation of a weeks-long standoff between the two neighbours in the western Himalayas.
“Why is the PM silent? Why is he hiding? Enough is enough. We need to know what has happened,” Gandhi tweeted.
“How dare China kill our soldiers? How dare they take our land?” he asked.
The Indian Army said in a statement that the troops have disengaged since Monday’s scrap and confirmed the number of dead at 20. Indian Army officials claimed 43 Chinese were killed or seriously injured, citing radio intercepts and other intelligence.
HT couldn’t independently verify this.
The immediate spark for the conflict at Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh isn’t known, although it could have been about Chinese soldiers dragging their feet about removing some of the installations they erected in May in an area India claims as its own.
Anurag Srivastava, the ministry of external affairs’ spokesperson, has blamed Chinese troops for the incident and referred to the meeting between army commanders of the two sides on June 6 that agreed “on a process of de-escalation” after the two sides deployed heavily on their respective sides of the LAC, which has never been defined.
Colonel Zhang Shuili, a spokesperson for the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Western Theater Command, in turn, blamed India for the clashes, on similar lines that the Chinese foreign ministry did earlier.
These are the first Indian casualties in a border skirmish with PLA since October 1975 when Chinese troops ambushed an Indian patrol in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tulung La sector and shot four soldiers dead.
No shots were fired this time.
HT has learnt rival soldiers exchanged blows, threw stones at each other and Chinese troops even attacked Indian soldiers with rods and nail-studded clubs during the brawl that went on for over six hours.