Indian and Chinese troops had their first faceoff in the Galwan Valley in the first week of May, around the time they came to blows on the banks of the Pangong Tso, and more than a month before the June 15 showdown in Galwan Valley in which 20 Indian Army personnel were killed.
This came to light Thursday when the Ministry of External Affairs mentioned it for the first time and the Chinese Ambassador to India, Sun Weidong, detailed the incident in an interview to PTI, a transcript of which was posted by the Chinese embassy.
Top sources in the Army confirmed that scuffles similar to Pangong Tso, though not as intense or violent, had taken place in Galwan Valley near Patrolling Point 14 (PP-14) in the first week of May between patrolling units of the two sides. It was after the clashes at these two sites that the standoff began, sources said.
Anurag Srivastava, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, told reporters: “In early May, the Chinese side had taken action to hinder India’s normal, traditional patrolling pattern in the Galwan Valley area. The resulting face-off was addressed by the ground commanders as per the provisions of the bilateral agreements and protocols.”
Ambassador Sun, while reiterating Beijing’s position, said: “On May 6, the Indian border troops crossed the LAC in the Galwan Valley by night and trespassed into China’s territory. They resorted to violent means to create a standoff between the two sides and built infrastructures in an attempt to maintain a permanent presence.”
The Chinese envoy said the first faceoff in Galwan Valley was on May 6. On May 5-6, Indian and Chinese troops had clashed on the banks of Pangong Tso, triggering a faceoff that led to massing of troops by both sides along the LAC.
Referring to the June 15 clashes, the Chinese envoy said: “First, the incident happened on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), and the Indian side crossed the LAC first. The Galwan Valley is located on the Chinese side of the LAC, where the ground situation of control and management is very clear. The two sides basically have kept peace for decades. However, since the beginning of this year, the Indian side has continuously built facilities at or crossing the LAC in the Galwan Valley, constantly changing the status quo of ground control.”
On the way forward, Sun said, “The merits of this incident is very clear. The onus is not on China.”
“The two sides agreed to fairly address the serious situation caused by the conflict in the Galwan Valley, jointly observe the consensus reached at the commander-level meeting between the two sides, cool down the situation on the ground as soon as possible, and maintain peace and tranquility in the border area in accordance with the agreements already reached between the two countries,” he said.
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