India-China: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted, “Our soldiers displayed exemplary courage and valour in the line of duty and sacrificed their lives in the highest traditions of the Indian Army”
New Delhi, June 17:
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today gave his condolences to the families of 20 soldiers who laid down their lives for India in a violent face-off with the Chinese army at Galwan valley in Ladakh.
“The loss of soldiers in Galwan is deeply disturbing and painful. Our soldiers displayed exemplary courage and valour in the line of duty and sacrificed their lives in the highest traditions of the Indian Army,” Mr Singh tweeted.
“The Nation will never forget their bravery and sacrifice. My heart goes out to the families of the fallen soldiers. The nation stand shoulder to shoulder with them in this difficult hour. We are proud of the bravery and courage of India’s breavehearts,” the Defence Minister said.
An army statement on Tuesday morning confirmed the death of a Colonel and two jawans and spoke of “casualties on both sides”. In another statement last evening, the army added that 17 more critically injured were “exposed to sub-zero temperatures… (and) succumbed to their injuries”.
In the violent clash at Galwan valley, both sides were armed with batons and sticks with nails. Reserves were called in by both sides on several occasions, say army sources. Several soldiers fell into the Galwan river during the fight. Extreme cold and hypothermia worsened the situation.
Since early May, hundreds of soldiers have been ranged against each other at three locations. The two sides had been discussing ways to de-escalate but Monday’s clashes erupted when Chinese troops turned on a group of Indian soldiers that included an officer.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said on Tuesday the clash arose from “an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo” on the border.
The United States, which has mounting frictions with China, but sees India as an emerging ally, said it was hoping for a “peaceful resolution”, and that it was monitoring the situation closely.