- 20 Indian soldiers, were martyred in a fierce clash with Chinese soldiers in the Galwan valley, which saw hand-to-hand combat.
- India and China have conducted 11 rounds of military discussions in the last one year to restore the status quo in border areas.
- Both countries agreed to largely disengage on February 2021, but China has not moved further back.
On June 15 last year, a violent clash between Indian and Chinese armies occurred in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley. The clash, which claimed the lives of 20 Indian soldiers, was one of the deadliest in 45 years, leading to a military standoff with China and at least 11 rounds of disengagement talks.
What happened on June 15, 2020?
Tensions had been high at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) weeks prior to the clash, with both sides sending more troops to the border. India said, China has moved into the Indian side of the LAC. On June 6, talks between local military commanders from both sides resulted in a mutually agreed-upon disengagement process.
The two troops were supposed to create a buffer zone, but an Indian officer detected a Chinese camp nearby and went to check it. This turned into a brawl, which resulted in deaths and injuries. Despite the fact that no shots were fired, the Defence Ministry’s year-end review claims that China used “unorthodox weapons” at Galwan.
For the first time on February 2021, China admitted that five Chinese military officers and troops had been killed in the eastern Ladakh clash.
A series of military talks end in stalemate:
Following the clash, a meeting of Major Generals from both armies was held at Patrolling Point 14, which brought the situation under control. On June 17, ten Indian Army men who had been kidnapped by the Chinese were returned after diplomatic and military talks.
“India wants peace,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his speech to the nation. However, if provoked, India will respond appropriately.”
On June 16, a meeting between the Corps Commanders of the Indian and Chinese forces resulted in a “mutual consensus to disengage.” However, no plan was developed, and a series of meetings and diplomatic talks ended in a stalemate.
“Army is preparing for the long haul, and the standoff is expected to go far into the winter,” army sources said after a meeting between XIV Corps Commander Lt General Harinder Singh and Major General Liu Lin, South Xinjiang Military Region Commander.
India demanded a restoration of status quo ante, with troops returning to the positions where they were before the conflict erupted in May. Zhao Lijian, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, claimed five days after the conflict that the “Galwan Valley is located on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control in the west portion of the China-India border” in a series of tweets. Chinese border guards have been patrolling and on duty in this region for many years.”
The series of meetings continued until the end of 2020, with an intensification in September when the Chinese PLA claimed that Indian troops had fired warning shots, leading it to “take actions to settle the situation on the ground” in Pangong Tso, one of Ladkah’s most tense sectors.
Breakthrough and Disengagement:
In February 2021, the first big breakthrough in discussions to end the nine-month military standoff was made. According to China’s Defence Ministry, Chinese and Indian troops on the southern and northern shores of Pangong Tso have commenced “synchronised and organised disengagement.” The agreement was reached in keeping with the consensus established by Corps Commanders during the ninth round of military talks on January 24.
“The Chinese and Indian frontline troops on the southern and northern banks of the Pangong Tso Lake start synchronised and organised disengagement from February 10,” stated Senior Colonel Wu Qian, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of National Defence, in a written statement.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in a statement that “there are still certain remaining concerns surrounding deployment and patrols on the LAC” and that “our attention will be focused on these in upcoming discussions.”
Apart from the Pangong Tso’s north and south banks in Ladakh, the other friction points are PP15 in Hot Springs, PP17A in the Gogra Post area, PP14 in Galwan Valley, and the Depsang Plains in the far north, where Chinese soldiers have been preventing Indian forces from accessing their customary patrolling positions PP10, PP11, PP11A, PP12, and PP13 at a location known as the Bottleneck.
“With no infractions and no violations of this disengagement, I believe the trust has grown up,” Army Chief General M M Naravane said on May 19.
He also stated that troop levels remain the same as they were during the standoff.