Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Tuesday met with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force to discuss the new developments and the ongoing situation after an Indian Army officer and two soldiers were killed in a violent face-off in Galwan Valley Monday. The meeting lasted for around 90 minutes.
Confirming the incident the Indian Army said in a statement on Tuesday: “During the de-escalation process underway in the Galwan Valley, a violent face-off took place yesterday night with casualties on both sides. The loss of lives on the Indian side includes an officer and two soldiers. Senior military officials of the two sides are currently meeting at the venue to defuse the situation.”
Sources added that after the incident, the Chinese side had “demanded a meeting today” to discuss the situation. The meeting had started around 7:30 am and lasted till around noon.
Disengagement from both sides had started in the Galwan Valley region, where the incident has taken place. More details are still awaited.
Army Chief General MM Naravane had said on Saturday that disengagement between the troops from both sides had begun from the north, in the Galwan Valley, and the two sides were talking to disengage on more points along the Patrol Points 14, 15 and 17A. But China has refused to accept India’s contention on Pangong Tso.
Pangong Tso has become a major point of contention between the two countries after Chinese troops have established substantial presence 8 km west of where India claims the Line of Actual Control passes.
Not only has China blocked access to Indian troops between Finger 4 on the north bank of Pangong Tso, even though Indian troops used to patrol till Finger 8 earlier, it has also captured nearly 60 sq km of land, which is on the Indian side of the LAC.
Satellite imagery from May 27 shows that Chinese troops have built tents between Finger 4 and Finger 8, changing the status quo.
Even as military and diplomatic talks between the two nations have been going on in the standoff that started on after May 5, the Monday night incident is likely to make the situation more complicated. Both countries have repeatedly mentioned during the standoff period that the situation was under control and both were in talks for a peaceful resolution.
Such fatalities along the LAC have happened after 45 years. In 1975 Chinese troops had ambushed an Indian patrol party on the LAC in Arunachal Pradesh.