There have been three deaths recorded on the part of Indian soldiers in a violent confrontation on the Chinese border, according to the Indian army on Tuesday, following several weeks of rising tensions and deployment of thousands of extra troops from both countries.
There have always been brawls between the two nuclear-armed kings across their disputed 3,500-kilometre (2,200-mile) frontier, but no death has ever been recorded in decades until this time.
The Indian military claimed that there were “casualties on both sides” in Monday’s incident on the Himalayan frontier between China’s Tibet and India’s region Ladakh, but China never mentioned any death on its side, while laying the blame for the fight squarely on India.
“A violent face-off took place yesterday (Monday) night with casualties on both sides. The loss of lives on the Indian side includes an officer and two soldiers,” an Indian army spokesman said in a statement
An Indian army officer in the region told newsmen that there had been no shooting in the incident, on precipitous, rocky terrain in the strategically important Galwan Valley.
“It was violent hand-to-hand scuffles,” the officer said on condition of anonymity. The officer killed was a colonel.
Attacking Chinese personnel
Beijing has confirmed that there was a clash and accused Delhi soldiers of crossing into there territory and “attacking Chinese personnel”.
Indian troops “crossed the borderline twice… provoking and attacking Chinese personnel, resulting in a serious physical confrontation between border forces on the two sides,” China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Tuesday.
“We again solemnly request that India follows the relevant attitude and restrains its frontline troops,” he added.
China’s defense ministry confirmed the incident had resulted in casualties but did not give the nationality of the victims or any other details.
After that India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese leader Xi Jinping appeared to ease tensions at two summits.
“If not handled correctly this can really escalate into something much bigger than we had initially imagined,” Harsh V Pant from the Observer Research Foundation think-tank told AFP, calling China’s statement “worrying”.
“China, with its better infrastructure, with its better military capabilities, perhaps thinks that this is the time to push India, to see how far India will go,” Pant told AFP.