S Jaishankar explains why no bullet was fired in border face-off at Galwan Valley

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Published: June 18, 2020 6:06 PM

The recent face-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers took place at the high altitude of Galwan Valley. The Indian soldiers had sustained injuries after they were attacked with barbed wires by Chinese soldiers.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. (PTI)

India-China Face-off in Ladakh: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday responded to former Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s questions and said that all troops on border duty “always carry arms, especially when leaving post”. “Those at Galwan on 15 June did so. Long-standing practice (as per 1996 & 2005 agreements) not to use firearms during faceoffs,” Jaishankar said in a tweet.

 

The minister’s remark came hours after Rahul Gandhi sought to know who was responsible for the martyrdom of 20 Indian soldiers, who were killed in a violent fist-fight with Chinese soldiers in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley on June 15.

In a video put out earlier today, Gandhi said China had committed a grave crime by killing unarmed Indian soldiers. “But I want to ask — who sent these brave men without arms towards danger and why? Who is responsible?” asked Rahul Gandhi. Later, in a tweet, he made a similar statement: “How dare China kill our UNARMED soldiers? Why were our soldiers sent UNARMED to martyrdom?”

While responding to the former Congress chief, the foreign minister cited two agreements (1996 and 2005) under which both the countries had agreed to adhere to certain understandings to avoid escalation during face-offs along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). In both the pact, India and China agreed that neither side shall use or threaten to use force against the other by any means. The first agreement was signed on November 29, 1996 and the second one on April 11, 2005.

The agreement of 1996

India and China had agreed that neither side shall use or threaten to use force against the other by any means or seek unilateral military superiority. The Article 1 of the agreement states that neither side shall use its military capability against the other side. “No armed forces deployed by either side in the border areas along the line of actual control as part of their respective military strength shall be used to attack the other side, or engage in military activities that threaten the other side or undermine peace, tranquillity and stability in the India-China border areas,” the agreement said.

According to the agreement, it was also agreed that neither side shall open fire, cause bio-degradation, use hazardous chemicals, conduct blast operations or hunt with guns or explosives within two kilometers from the line of actual control. However, this prohibition was not applicable in routine firing activities in small arms firing ranges.

In 2005, both the countries reiterated their commitment to abide by and implement the agreements signed on 7 September 1993 and 29 November 1996.

The recent face-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers took place at the high altitude of Galwan Valley. The Indian soldiers had sustained injuries after they were attacked with barbed wires by Chinese soldiers. The Indian Army had first confirmed the death of three soldiers including a colonel-level officer. Later, the army said that 17 soldiers “who were critically injured in the line of duty at the stand-off location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain have succumbed to their injuries, taking the total that were killed in action to 20”.

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