New Delhi/July,19: Defence minister Rajnath Singh, who took a review of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, met the soldiers of 16 Bihar, who fought aggression of Xinjiang military district troops at Galwan Y nullah on June 15, during his two-day visit.
In a video tweeted by the defence minister’s office on Sunday, Singh is seen interacting with the soldiers in Lukung base camp near Pangong Tso in Ladakh. He also shook hands of the battalion officers and men while praising them for their bravery against all odds.
It was this Bihar unit which faced the Chinese troops during the clashes in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley on June 15. An attack on the commanding officer of the 16 Bihar Colonel Santosh Babu was reported to be the trigger for the bloody scuffle. With both sides now involved in dis-engagement at Galwan sector, 16 Bihar and the PLA unit from Sichuan it faced on June 15 have been taken out of the frontline as it could spark of conflagration again.
India and China have been engaged in talks to east the month-long tension along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Officials of both the countries have held a series of meetings. During one such meeting on June 6, it was decided that China will move its observation post near the junction of Shyok and Galwan rivers. During a routine patrol on June 15, the Indian soldiers found the tents were still there, according to people aware of what unfolded at the border that day. The Chinese observation post was manned by 10-12 soldiers who were told by the Indian patrol to go away. The Chinese refused to do so even as the Indian patrol returned to their unit to inform them about the development. This was when the Indian troops with around 50 people and 16 Bihar Commanding Officer Colonel Santosh Babu in the lead, went on to tell the Chinese to go back further in their territory as they were on Indian soil.
Meanwhile, by the time the first Indian patrol returned from the site, the Chinese had called for reinforcements from their rear positions in the Galwan river valley who came with around 300-350 people. As the Indian patrol reached, the sources said, the Chinese had already built up troops on higher ground around the observation post and kept the stones and weapons ready for launching an attack on the Indian troops. As the two sides started talking, the discussion turned into a heated one and the Indian side started uprooting their tents and equipment. The Chinese, who had already prepared themselves for aggression against Indian troops, attacked the Indian side in which their first attack was on the 16 Bihar CO and Havildar Palani. After the CO went down, the Biharis lost control and started attacking the Chinese ferociously despite being heavily outnumbered and stones raining from the higher ground.Twenty Indian soldiers, including Colonel Babu, were killed in the clashes. China also suffered casualties but never announced the exact number.