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Amid escalating tensions between India and China in the aftermath of the Galwan Valley clash, which claimed the lives of 20 Indian Army personnel on 15 June, I went around Leh to gauge the sentiment of locals on the ground.
I asked people about their concerns regarding the clash and consequent future, as well as the reportage in mainstream media ever since the face-off.
A lack of information had led to uncertainty and anxiety among Ladakhis.
“They should tell the truth and not hide it. They should say the right thing so that people are satisfied, so that we know about the situation of Indian land. They should tell us the correct thing. People shouldn’t be kept in the dark.”Local
The residents of Ladakh were particularly against the false information given by mainstream Indian mediapersons, who they think have not bothered to research or consult locals before reporting or giving opinion regarding the matter.
“How the media is pretending to be reporting from ‘ground zero’ and how they are reporting from Leh city itself, which is 300 km away from ground zero. And they pick and point at any mountain and declare it as Galwan Valley and they say on national news that they are reporting from Galwan Valley on ground zero, which is very wrong.”Jigmet Gyatso, Proprietor
Residents feel there needs to be transparency.
“We must talk about what people aren’t talking about, that (for) anybody living close to the border, facing possibility of a military conflict, there’s fear and sacrifice everyday. Yes, it is very important to uphold the territorial sovereignty and integrity of our country, but it is equally important on part of our government to make sure that no more lives are lost at the border.”Tsering Nordon, Student
Between news of the standoff and increasing coronavirus cases, locals feel left in the lurch and hope the issue de-escalates.
“Because of coronavirus, business was affected. Now, because of a war-like situation, the whole atmosphere here is disturbed. The markets are all empty. There is no work and business now, everything is shut.”Local
Reservations aside, locals were of the view that the Indian Army is capable enough and equipped enough to protect its land and its people, but they fell the issue must be resolved via bilateral discussions.
“Right now, both are strong. It is not like before, that they do not have weaponry. India also does not lack in weaponry. If they discuss and reach an agreement, then it’s beneficial for both sides.”Phunchok Tashi, Subedar Major and Honorary Captain (retd)
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