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Twenty Indian soldiers, including 16 Bihar regiment commanding officer Colonel Santosh Babu, were killed in action in the Galwan region of Ladakh. In an official statement, the Indian army said 17 Indian troops who were “were critically injured” succumbed “exposed to sub-zero temperatures.”
The statement from the Indian Army said: “Indian and Chinese troops have disengaged at the Galwan area where they had earlier clashed on the night of 15/16 June 2020. 17 Indian troops who were critically injured in the line of duty at the stand-off location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain have succumbed to their injuries, taking the total that were killed in action to 20.
None of the official statements indicate what exactly transpired, but sources told The Quint that Chinese Army used sticks with barbed wires to attack Indian troops. However, there were several others reports that throw some light on the sequence of events.
Clash Started Over Removal of Tents
News reports, quoting sources, said the clash began after Indian troops asked the Chinese troops to remove their tents from the Galwan area.
Reporting for News18, Praveen Swamy wrote that Indian troops moved into removing a People’s Liberation Army tent set up near a position code-named Patrolling Point 14, on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control.
Chinese troops responded by throwing stones and then assaulting using iron rods and clubs.
The report added: “A senior military official said he (Colonel Babu) appeared to have been targeted by PLA troops in the course of the melee, likely while attempting to defuse the savage fighting.”
Colonel and His Men Were Targeted First: Report
Senior defence journalist Nitin Gokhale in a report in Stratnews Global provided similar details. The report said the clashes began after Indian troops moved in to remove the tents.
The report said PLA troops were asked to fall back 1.5 km to the east, which was decided as per the disengagement plan. According to the report, Chinese troops first attacked Col Babu and the two jawans with iron rods and stones. The serious clash broke out after rest of the Indian troops retaliated.
250 Chinese Soldiers Attacked
In his article for The Economic Times, Manu Pubby reported the estimated number of troops involved in the clash. The team led by Col Santosh Babu led a team of 50 men to remove the Chinese tents. Indian forces also burnt illegal structure, including an observation post, read the report.
In retaliation, a force of 250 Chinese soldiers came to counterattack the Indian unit. The fighting took place near the Galwan river and several casualties were results of solider being swept away by the strong currents, his report added.
According to a report in India Today, Col Babu and the two soldiers pulled back, but several injured soldiers were taken captive immediately by the Chinese side. Forty minutes later, another Indian unit led by a Major went back for a counter-attack, it added.
Several May Have Slipped Into Steep Cliff, Fell Into Fast-Flowing Galwan River
Senior journalist Shiv Aroor, who tweeted details of the clash, wrote that as the fighting spread and troops moved up the “ridge over fast-flowing Galwan River”, several slipped into the steep cliff and either hit against the rocks or fell into the river.
Adding details of what happened next, Aroor tweeted, “ 'Landslide' like situation. A Chinese Brigadier arrives on site, orders troops back, and to pick up casualties. Indian Army men retrieve bodies downstream in the darkness. Herculean task in that cold. Have to trek down etc. By morning several of the Indian men have succumbed. “