Indian Army officer, 2 soldiers killed in Ladakh face-off

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An Indian Army officer and two soldiers were killed during a violent confrontation with Chinese troops in the sensitive Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on Monday night, the Army said.

It is perhaps the first such incident along the border with China that Indian armed forces personnel have been killed after a gap of nearly 45 years. Four Indian soldiers had lost their lives in an ambush at Tulung La in Arunachal Pradesh in 1975.

A large number of Indian and Chinese troops were engaged in an eyeball-to-eyeball situation in Galwan Valley and certain other areas of eastern Ladakh for the last five weeks.

The incident comes days after Indian Army Chief Gen M M Naravane said both sides have begun disengaging from the Galwan Valley.

The Army said there were casualties on the Chinese side as well but the extent of it was not immediately clear.

Official sources said there was no firing between the two sides.

“During the de-escalation process underway in the Galwan Valley, a violent face-off took place on Monday night with casualties. The loss of lives on the Indian side includes an officer and two soldiers,” the Army said in a brief statement.

The force further stated that senior military officials of both the countries are currently meeting at the face-off site to defuse the situation.

According to news agency, Beijing has confirmed the incident and accused India of crossing the border and “attacking Chinese personnel”.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Indian troops “crossed the border line twice… provoking and attacking Chinese personnel, resulting in serious physical confrontation between border forces on the two sides.”

Meanwhile, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a meeting with Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, the three service chiefs and External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar on Tuesday over the incident.

The Indian and Chinese armies are engaged in a stand-off in Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie in eastern Ladakh.

A sizeable number of Chinese Army personnel even transgressed into the Indian side of the de-facto border in several areas including Pangong Tso.

The Indian Army has been fiercely objecting to the transgressions, and demanded their immediate withdrawal for restoration of peace and tranquillity in the area. Both sides held a series of talks in the last few days to resolve the row.

On Monday, Brigade Commander and company level talks happened in Eastern Ladakh between India and China. The talks are happening near patrolling point 14, near the mouth of Galwan Valley and patrolling point 17 at Hot Spring Area.

On June 13, Indian Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane had assured that the entire situation along the borders with China is under control and the process of disengagement has started.

General Naravane had said, “I would just like to assure everyone that the entire situation along our borders with China is under control. We’re having a series of talks which started with the Corps Commander level talks on June 6 and has been followed up with meetings at local level between Commanders of equivalent ranks.

“As a result, a lot of disengagement has taken place and we are hopeful that through the continued dialogue that we’re having, all perceived differences that we (India and China) have will be set to rest. Everything is under control,” he had said.

The Army chief further stated that both sides (India and China) are disengaging in a phased manner. “We have started from the north, the area of the Galwan River, where a lot of disengagement has happened. It has been fruitful dialogue we had and it will continue and by and by the situation will improve as we go on,” he had said.