The Russian state media made a sensational claim last week by reporting that the Indian troops had killed at least 45 Chinese soldiers in the Galwan Valley clash in eastern Ladakh in June last year. China has, for the first time, officially admitted that it lost four personnel in the June 2020 clash.
Following these incidents, New Delhi and Beijing increased the concentration of forces in the region to about 50,000 people each, the report added.
China’s state-run Global Times said five Chinese frontier officers and soldiers were recognized by the Central Military Commission for defending national sovereignty in the border confrontation with China.
“The Central Military Commission awarded Qi Fabao, the regimental commander from the PLA Xinjiang Military Command, the title of ‘Heroic regimental commander for defending the border’, Chen Hongjun with ‘Hero to defend the border’, and awarded the first-class merit to Chen Xiangrong, Xiao Siyuan, and Wang Zhuoran.”
The report added, “This is the first time China has unveiled casualties and details of these officers and soldiers, four of whom died when dealing with the Indian military’s illegal trespassing of the Galwan Valley Line of Actual Control (LAC).”
However, China’s claims are being questioned because of the evidence put forth by the Indian officers on the ground, as well as the experts who examined the whole incident. In fact, the intelligence reports by the US and Russian agencies have put the Chinese toll in the clash between 38 and 45.
The most credible claim came from the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Army’s Northern Command Lt. Gen. YK Joshi, who said that they witnessed about 60 casualties being carried away using stretchers.
“I don’t want to make an estimate, but when the incident happened, we were able to count a large number of casualties, which were being picked up on stretchers and taken back. More than 60, actually, but whether they were fatal or non-fatal, we can’t say with authority so I will not give a figure,” he claimed in an interview with CNN-News18.
The border tensions between India and China heightened in May last year, with the conflict reaching its peak on June 15 when the troops from the two sides clashed in the Galwan Valley near Patrol Point 14. The Chinese troops used stones, clubs, and sticks embedded with nails to attack the Indian soldiers. The violent clash had resulted in 20 casualties from the Indian side.
After a nine-month standoff and multiple rounds of military talks, both the militaries came to an agreement this month to disengage in the north and south banks of Pangong lake and start removing infrastructure and reduce troop presence in the area in a “phased, coordinated and verifiable” manner.