While India lost 20 soldiers in the violent clash at Galwan area, China lost more than 40 soldiers, Union Minister Gen. V.K. Singh (retd.) said on Saturday.
This is the first response from anyone in the government on casualties on the Chinese side in the clash.
“If we lost 20 soldiers, more than double the number were killed on their [Chinese] side,” Gen. Singh said. “China hides numbers. In the 1962 war too, it did not accept the casualties”.
In the first combat fatalities in 45 years along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), 20 Indian soldiers were killed when they were attacked by Chinese troops in Galwan valley during the “de-escalation” process on Monday night.
The Indian Army had stated that there were "casualties on both sides." Accusing India for the clash, the Chinese PLA Western Theatre Command spokesperson Senior Colonel Zhang Shuili said on Tuesday that it “triggered fierce physical confrontation between the two sides, resulting in casualties” but so far China has not commented on its casualty numbers.
Queries from veterans
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments on Friday that “neither is anyone inside our territory nor is any of our post captured”, raised several questions from the military fraternity, both serving and retired. The clarification issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Saturday did not do much to assuage their apprehensions.
“This means the Chinese did not come across to the Indian side. There was no transgression nor incursion,” a serving officer said on condition of anonymity.
Several veterans took to social media to raise questions and clarity on this.
The PMO issued the clarification that with regard to LAC transgression, it was clearly stated that the violence in Galwan on June 15 “arose because Chinese side was seeking to erect structures just across the LAC and refused to desist from such actions.”
The statement further said the focus of Mr. Modi’s remarks were the events of June 15 at Galwan that led to the loss of lives of 20 soldiers. The statement clarifed that his observations that there was no Chinese presence on ‘our side’ of the LAC “pertained to the situation as a consequence of the bravery of our armed forces”, and added that the sacrifices of the soldiers of the 16 Bihar Regiment “foiled the attempt of the Chinese side to erect structures and also cleared the attempted transgression at this point of the LAC on that day.”
Soon after Mr. Modi’s comments, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Zhao Lijian claimed on Twitter that “Galwan Valley is located on the Chinese side of the LAC in the west section of the China-India boundary.” “For many years, the Chinese border troops have been patrolling and on duty in this region”, he said.
Veteran helicopter pilot AVM Manmohan Bahadur (retd) debunked those remarks. “We flew regularly over Galwan estuary way back in 1978 and my predecessors were doing this from before. Our maps clearly showed the LAC way to the East of the estuary - else we would have skirted the confluence of Shyok and Galwan. Sorry sir, but you are wrong,” he said in reply on Twitter.
Beginning May 5, Chinese troops have come inside Indian territory at several points. At the Corps Commanders talks on June 6, both sides reached an agreement for a partial pullout of troops and equipment from some of the stand-off areas in Galwan. They also identified five locations of conflict- PP 14, 15 and 17, North bank of Pangong Tso and Chushul. In Pangong Tso, they are sitting at Finger 4, while India’s claim is till Finger 8. It remains a major area of contention and that is expected to be discussed at the Corps Commander level at a later stage.