By Syed Ali Mujtaba
The Indian troops fight with PLA on Monday June 15, had claimed at least 23 soldiers’ lives and some 24 are battling for lives that may take the death toll numbers a little higher, said a senior government official familiar with the debriefing of Galwan valley survivors at the hospitals in Leh.
The same source has also said that there were over 110 Indian soldiers who are badly injured in the same fight and are under treatment.
In response to the Indian casualties, the Indian Army source claimed that it intercepted a Chinese military communication suggesting that over 40 PLA soldiers were killed or injured in the fight with the Indian troops. There is no reaction from the Chinese side and they have not yet reported their casualties.
The fighting began on Monday night, June 15, after Indian troops belonging to the 16 Bihar Regiment, under commanding officer, Colonel Santosh Babu dismantled a Chinese tent set up near a position code-named Patrol Point 14, close to the mouth of the Galwan River.
The tent that was there but was dismantled by the PLA as part of its disengagement process after the army commanders meeting held earlier was again set up at the same place.
Commanding officer Colonel Babu of 16 Bihar regiment ‘got orders from the top’ to go ahead and dismantle the tent. He went with his troops that led to clashes with its Chinese counterpart and in the ensuing fight, the Indian troops burnt down the Chinese tent.
The PLA has made allegations that Colonel Babu’s troops crossed a buffer zone separating the two sides, violating border-management protocols and did not use the white flags and banners to enter the Chinese side. This prompted the Chinese side to engage the Indian soldiers into hand to hand fist fight.
The Indian troops fought with bare hands for over eight hours in sub-zero temperatures and had no means of defense as there was no one to back them up. On the contrary, the PLA had iron rods as well as batons wrapped in barbed wire. Some were even carrying improvised weapons but were non firearms.
The PLA hunted down the unarmed Indian soldiers when they started running away from the fight and killed some of them without showing any mercy.
Few Indian soldiers who fled the scene and ran to the hillsides were also chased and killed by the PLA. One Indian soldier jumped into the Galwan River in a desperate effort to save his life, but was pulled out from the water and killed.
The PLA dragged many Indian soldiers to their side and killed them in a cold blood manner. Later their dead bodies were handed over to the Indian side.
The investigation and inquiries of this incident is a procedural matter, but the obvious question that every Indian has in mind is who had ordered Colonel Santosh Babu to lead his troops and dismantle the Chinese tent. Why were the lambs sent to become the mincemeat when it was very well Known that it’s a lion’s den?
The Indian soldiers were not killed in action but were done to death by those who commanded them to go to the Chinese side.
Secondly, why there were no backup troops when the Indian soldiers came under attack by the PLA. Even the Indian rescue operation was shoddy. The Indian casualties could have been minimized if the evacuation could have been done swiftly.
Well answers to these questions cannot be brushed behind the veil of defense secrecy. What has happened at Galwan is a national shame. Those who have brought disrepute to the Indian Army should not go unpunished.
Tailpiece: This report is prepared based on the available open sources. The author does not claim any responsibility for the authenticity of the source. The questions that are raised are in larger public interest and with the objective is to give vent to people’s concerns.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org