June 15 marks one year of the deadly Galwan Valley clash in eastern Ladakh which resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers, including Commanding Officer Colonel Santosh Babu, and unspecified number of Chinese troops.
The clash had sparked a war-like situation, however, the situation has cooled down following 11 rounds of military-level talks between India and China, and both countries agreeing to de-escalate.
But the Indian Army continues to be on high alert with its enhanced troop deployment of over 50,000 men on the ground in Ladakh for the last year.
What really happened?
On June 15, 2020, Indian and Chinese troops clashed for six hours in a steep section – Patrolling Point 14 – of a mountainous region in the Galwan Valley. The Chinese attacked the Indian Army personnel while the latter were patrolling a disputed area where Colonel Santosh Babu had destroyed a Chinese tent two days earlier.
Hand-to-hand combat broke out and eventually, hundreds of soldiers were engaged in combat using stones, batons, iron rods, and other makeshift weapons.
The fighting resulted in the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers, mainly from the 16th Bihar Regiment including its commanding officer, Colonel Santosh Babu. Reportedly, most of the soldiers who were killed fell to their deaths after losing their footing or being pushed off a ridge.
According to Indian media sources, the clash resulted in 43 Chinese casualties, which has been vehemently denied by Beijing. China says only four of its soldiers were killed in Galwan on June 15.
On June 16, Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar said that China had unilaterally tried to change the status quo and that the violence was premeditated and planned.
After the Galwan Valley clash sparked a war-like situation between the two countries, Indian and Chinese military delegates started holding Corps Commander-level talks to resolve the border disputes at the friction points.
However, after 11 rounds of discussions have failed to yield an outcome and the only thing that has happened is that both countries have agreed to resolve the dispute peacefully.
India has enhanced military infrastructure, increased troop deployment to 50,000 to 60,000 troops, and constructed better roads to improve connectivity for quick force mobilisation.
Last month, Indian Army chief General MM Naravane had said that the troops are on high alert along the LAC, keeping a watch on the activities of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
Naravane said that India wants the status quo ante of April 2020 to be restored. He also stated that India has made it clear to China that de-escalation will only be considered once disengagement is completed to the mutual satisfaction of both sides.