New Delhi/June,16 : An Indian army officer and two soldiers were killed in a “violent face-off” on Monday night with Chinese soldiers at Galwan Valley in Ladakh, in a massive escalation at a time there were efforts to defuse weeks of tension at the border. India retaliated and there were casualties on both sides, said the army. Army sources say the soldiers were not shot but were killed in hand-to-hand combat on Indian Territory. Major Generals of both sides are meeting currently, according to an official statement. This is the first violent incident involving fatalities since 1975 between India and China, who fought a brief border war in 1962.
The army statement said”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.”There was no shootout or gunshot wounds, say sources. “There was no firing. No firearms were used. It was violent hand-to-hand scuffles,” an unnamed officer was quoted by news agency Agence France Presse as saying.Beijing, in an aggressive statement, accused India of crossing the border, “attacking Chinese personnel”, reported AFP. China’s Foreign Ministry was quoted by Reuters as saying India should not take unilateral actions or stir up trouble.China’s Global Times quoted their foreign minister as saying two Indian soldiers had “crossed into Chinese territory twice on Monday in a serious violation of the consensus reached earlier” between the two countries. “They provoked and attacked the Chinese side, leading to a severe physical brawl. China has lodged protests and representations to the Indian side,” said Chinese Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.Zhao Lijian also told reporters, according to AFP, that Beijing has lodged “strong protests and solemn representations” to Delhi.According to sources in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office, his scheduled meeting with Chief Ministers via video conferencing on COVID-19 will be held as per the plan.Indian and Chinese soldiers have been locked in a standoff for weeks at Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie in eastern Ladakh. A significant number of Chinese army personnel even transgressed into the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control or the de-facto border in several areas including Pangong Tso.After weeks of face-off including an incident in which patrolling soldiers from the two sides came to blows on the banks of Pangong Lake, resulting in injuries, friction eased following talks. Indian and Chinese military commanders had been in talks in Galwan Valley area and Hot Springs.The Chinese Army had earlier pulled back its troops from the Galwan valley, PP-15 and Hot Springs in Eastern Ladakh area. The Indian side also brought back some of its troops and vehicles from these areas.China has been reportedly upset about the Indian construction of roads and air strips in the area.After years of neglect Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has pushed for improving connectivity and by 2022, 66 key roads along the Chinese border will have been built. One of these roads is near the Galwan valley that connects to Daulat Beg Oldi air base, which was inaugurated last October.