June 15 marks one year since the deadly clash between Indian and Chinese troops in Galwan Valley, leading to the death of 20 Indian soldiers, including Commanding Officer Colonel Santosh Babu, and an unspecified number of Chinese troops.
It was one of the most violent clashes between India and China in the last 45 years.
What actually happened?
Weeks before the clash, tension prevailed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with both sides deploying several soldiers at the border. India asserted that the Chinese invaded the Indian side of the LAC, which led to a mutually agreed disengagement process through several talks held between local military commanders of both sides on June 6.
A buffer zone was to be created between the two armies, however, an Indian commander noticed a Chinese camp in the area and went to inspect. This stepped up into a conflict, resulting in deaths and injuries. While no shots were fired, a year-end review by the Defence Ministry states that the Chinese army used ‘unorthodox weapons’ at Galwan.
On June 16, 2020, 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.
Around 11 rounds of talks for the disengagement process
Following the clash, high-level meetings were held between the Major Generals of both armies at the Patrolling Point 14 which handled the situation. Ten Indian Army personnel, captured by the Chinese, were returned on June 17 after talks at the diplomatic and military level.
The PM also stated that India wants peace but won’t tolerate any provocation.
On June 16, a meeting between Corps Commanders of both sides concluded with “mutual consensus to disengage”. However, no plan was drawn up and a series of meetings and diplomatic talks resulted in a stalemate.
Later, military infrastructure was developed in India, troops deployment was raised to around 60,000 and better roads were constructed to enhance the connectivity for quick and better force mobilisation.
The previous month, Indian Army chief General MM Naravane had said that the troops are on high alert along the LAC, keeping an eye on the activities of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
Naravane stated that India wants the restoration of the status quo ante of April 2020. He also added that India had a clear talk with China that de-escalation will only be considered once disengagement is completed to the mutual satisfaction of both sides.
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