The Army has erected a memorial to commemorate the 20 Indian soldiers who had died fighting Chinese troops near Patrolling Point 14 (PP14) in eastern Ladakh on June 15. The memorial mentions the names of all 20 soldiers who had gone to remove Chinese tents on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control, but were killed in a hand-to-hand combat with rival troops.
The plaque at the memorial, which is situated along the Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie road, mentions the details of the incident.
“Op Snow Leopard”, it states, “on 15th June 2020 at Galwan Valley, Col B Santosh Babu Commanding Officer 16 Bihar led the Quick Reaction Force of 16 Bihar and attached troops tasked to evict the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) OP (outpost) from general area Y Nala and move further to PP14”.
Y Nala is the place where the Galwan river turns west to meet Shyok river.
The plaque mentions that “the column successfully evicted the PLA OP from Y Nala and reached PP14 where a fierce skirmish broke out between the Indian Army and PLA troops”. Col B Santosh Babu, it says, “led from the front and his troops fought gallantly in a hand-to-hand combat, causing heavy casualties to the PLA”. It calls the killed Indian soldiers as “gallants of Galwan”.
The fight marked the first instance of troops dying on the Indo-China border since 1975.
China is yet to officially declare the number of PLA troops who died in the clash, but sources in the Indian defence establishment said Beijing had unofficially confirmed to the Indian side that at least five of their soldiers had died, including a commanding officer.
While both sides have been engaged in talks at senior military commanders and at the diplomatic level, there is no clear disengagement in sight. Both sides had, however, successfully disengaged from the PP14 in early July, and Chinese troops had moved back to their side of the LAC.
Sources said the June 15 clash had taken place around 800 meters on the Indian side of the LAC.
The seventh round of Corps Commander-level talks are expected to take place next week. In the diplomatic and military talks so far, India has been demanding a status quo ante, for troops from both sides to go back to their positions as of April end.
Both sides have around 50,000 soldiers each in the eastern Ladakh region, and as hopes of a resolution fade, both sides are preparing for deployment of additional troops in the region for the winter.
A small number of Chinese troops continue to be on the Indian side of the LAC at PP15 in Hot Springs, and at PP17A in the Gogra Post region. On the north bank of the Pangong Tso, while the PLA had moved from the base of Finger 4 to base of Finger 5, the PLA troops had refused to vacate the Finger 4 ridgeline.
According to India, the LAC passes through Finger 8, which is 8 km east from Finger 4. The Indian troops had re-adjusted their positions on the north bank in the first week of September and now occupy heights dominating the Chinese positions on Finger 4 ridgeline.
On the south bank of the lake, in the Chushul sub-sector, the Indian troops had outpaced Chinese forces to occupy heights on Gurgung Hill, Magar Hill, Resang La and Rechin La in August end. The new positions allow India to dominate the entire sector, including the strategically important Spanggur Gap and China’s Moldo Garrison.
In the north, in Depsang Plain, Chinese troops are blocking Indian soldiers from reaching their traditional patrolling limits. Chinese troops are preventing Indian troops to go east of an area known as the Bottleneck, to reach PP10, PP11, PP11A, PP12 and PP13.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines