Both sides had Brigade level talks on Monday happened near patrolling point 14, which is right near the mouth of Galwan Valley and patrolling point 17 at Hot Spring Area.
India China Galwan Valley standoff: Even as India and China are engaged in military-level talks and in controlled engagement, there has been a violent face-off between the army troops of both sides. On Monday night, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Indian Army clashed and used stones, knives, and machetes to attack each other and this resulted in fatalities on both sides. Due to this incident, the Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane’s scheduled visit to Pathankot was cancelled today.
While the official figure released by the Indian side claims that one Commanding Officer and two soldiers were killed, the Chinese have yet not announced the number of casualties. This incident happened at Galwan Valley in Eastern Ladakh region. The process of de-escalation was underway, when Colonel, the Commanding Officer of an infantry battalion, and two soldiers were killed.
Both sides had Brigade level talks on Monday happened near patrolling point 14, which is right near the mouth of Galwan Valley and patrolling point 17 at Hot Spring Area. Last weekend, the Indian Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane had told the media that the situation along the border was under control and that the process of disengagement has started. The disengagement of troops of both sides started from the north which is the area of the Galwan Valley.
Since 1975, this was the first casualties for India due to a clash with the PLA. In 1975, Indian Patrol was ambushed by the Chinese troops in Arunachal Pradesh in 1975.
While the Chinese side has called on India not to take unilateral actions, along with the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and the three Service Chiefs, Defence Minister Rajnath reviewed the current operational situation in Eastern Ladakh. During the meeting, the external affairs minister S Jaishankar was also present.
The strategic importance of Galwan River Valley (GRV)
The area where the troops of both sides are confronting is the first time since 1962. Though the LAC is clearly defined here, this is the first time that tensions are brewing in Eastern Ladakh.
What does history say?
In 1962, China attacked India across the eastern and northern borders. And the construction of a road between Xinjiang and Tibet was the trigger for this. Around 179 km of this highway which passes through Aksai Chin in the Indian Territory is better known as G219. The road the Chinese had built then was without India’s consent.
And since the Chinese wanted to control any movement by the Indian Army from West to East, mountain passes are required to go across the mountain ranges. And the Chinese have also ensured that the LAC goes through the highest Crestline and also which is located to the west. This means that India does not control dominating heights and there is more depth which stretches between LAC and the Chinese G219 highway.
The Galwan river is the highest ridgeline and it allows the Chinese to dominate the Shyok route passes, which is close to the river. Chinese are keen on controlling this area as they fear that the Indian side could end up threatening their position on the Aksai Chin plateau by using the river valley.
India is trying to construct a feeder road emanating from Darbuk-Shyok Village – Daulat Beg Oldi road (DS-DBO road). This road runs along the Shyok River and is the most critical line of communications close to LAC. It comes up Patrol Point 14 (PP14).
More about Galwan Valley
To proclaim ownership of the area, army posts were set up to show the Indian flag to the Chinese side.
Based on satellite imagery, the Chinese had built a road until the middle point of the Galwan valley by 2016. And since then, they have managed to extend this to some point closer to the LAC in the sector.
The story so far
Since May 5-6, troops of both countries had a face-off in the Galwan River sector. The PLA troops reportedly crossed the LAC from their bases in this sector. The face-off took place at a point which is known as Patrol Point 14 (PP14), which is not only on the Indian side but is also close to the LAC.
As has been reported earlier, the Indian government has decided to continue with the infrastructure work in the entire Ladakh sector including the Galwan River area.