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ITBP recommends medals for 21 personnel

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) contingent rehearsing in New Delhi. File

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) contingent rehearsing in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) has recommended gallantry medals for 21 personnel who faced Chinese troops in multiple skirmishes that occurred in eastern Ladakh in May and June. It said that due to its “befitting response,” many “hypersensitive” locations were safeguarded from Chinese troops.

This is the first time the ITBP, deployed with the Army along the undefined Line of Actual Control (LAC) has confirmed the violent face-offs with Chinese troops in sectors other than the Galwan Valley, where 20 Army personnel were killed on June 15.

Also read: Additional 2,000 ITBP troops may be sent to Sino-India border

The recommendations for medals are, however, not for the Galwan incident, where the ITBP trekked a long distance to retrieve the bodies of the jawans who had fallen into the Galwan river following the clash.

“The ITBP troops not only effectively used shield to protect themselves but also responded fiercely to PLA [People’s Liberation Army] advancing troops and brought the situation under control. With highest order of professional skills, ITBP troops fought shoulder to shoulder and also brought the injured Indian Army troops to the rear,” a statement issued by the ITBP on Friday said.

Patrol teams along the Line of Actual Control with China, in Ladakh. File

Patrol teams along the Line of Actual Control with China, in Ladakh. File   | Photo Credit: Dinakar Peri

Also read: Ladakh face-off | Armed forces ‘given free hand’ to respond to situation at LAC

Massive build-up by Chinese troops

A senior government official said that before the Galwan clash, there was a massive build-up by Chinese troops along the LAC beginning April last week.

Also read: Chinese troops shift 2 km from Galwan Valley clash site

A document that was uploaded on the Ministry of Defence’s website on August 5 and deleted later said, “Chinese aggression has been increasing along the LAC and more particularly in Galwan valley since May 5. The Chinese side transgressed in the areas of Kurang Nala, Gogra and north bank of Pangong Tso on May 17-18.”

The ITBP statement said that “even when the ITBP troops fought whole night, they received minimum casualties by giving befitting reply to the stone pelters of the PLA. At places, they gave determined stand-off about 17 to 20 hours throughout the intervening nights.”

It added, “Due to the high altitude training and maneuver experience of the force in the Himalayas deployments, the ITBP troops kept the PLA troops at bay and due to the allout and befitting response of ITBP jawans at almost all fronts, many areas were safeguarded in the hyper sensitive areas.”

Also read: After Chinese pullback, Indian troops also move 1.5 km away from Galwan Valley clash site

Other than the 21 recommendations, 294 other ITBP personnel received the Director General Gallantry Commendations “for displaying raw courage and bravery during face-offs and skirmishes in Eastern Ladakh in May-June 2020.”

The recommendations for gallantry medals, announced twice on the occasions of Republic Day and Independence Day each year, are scrutinised and cleared by the Home Ministry. None of the 21 recommendations received a medal on the eve of Independence Day this year.

Corps Commanders’ talks

The Indian Army and the PLA have so far held five rounds of Corps Commanders’ talks but there hasn’t been any significant movement beyond the limited first phase of disengagement.

The ITBP was raised with four battalions in the aftermath of the India-China war in 1962 and presently comprises 60 battalions. It is deployed at 180 border outposts from the Karakoram pass in the north-west to Jachep La in Arunachal Pradesh. The BOPs (border outpost) are located up to an altitude of 18,900 feet and most forward posts remain cut off by land routes.

The ITBP also recommended the names of 318 personnel and 40 other Central armed Police Force personnel for award of Union Home Minister Special Operation Medals for their dedicated services in fight against the COVID-19.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2020 4:11:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/itbp-awards-294-troops-for-bravery-during-recent-skirmishes-with-chinese-in-ladakh/article32354596.ece

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