Galwan Valley: Important Questions And Answers Regarding India-China Border Dispute In Ladakh

6 mins read

Ashfaq Wani
At present, India-China diplomatic relations are going through a very critical period. The two countries have also fought a war once in 1962 over the LAC dispute.

Violent clashes between the two countries followed in 1965 and 1975. This is the fourth time that there is tension on the border between the two countries.

Many questions will pop up into your mind about what happened on the night between 15th and 16th June in the Indo-China border Galwan Valley. I will try to tell you the answers to all the main questions.

Question No. 1: What happened on the night of 15th and 16th June in Galwan Valley?

Twenty Indian soldiers, including an Indian Army colonel, were killed in a clash at the LAC in the Galwan Valley of Ladakh between the nights of June 15 and 16.

India claims that the Chinese army has also suffered casualties, but no official statement has been issued by China. China has not acknowledged any damage to its military. Since then, pre-existing tensions between the two countries have escalated, with both accusing each other of aggression & violence.

Iron rods with nails were reportedly used in clashes between troops on both sides of the India-China Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Galwan Valley.

A senior Indian Army official on the Indo-China border also sent the photos to various news organizations, saying Chinese troops attacked Indian troops with melee weapons.

Question 2: Why did these violent clashes just happen and when and how did they start?

According to defense experts, the Indo-Chinese border dispute began in the third week of April when the Ladakh’s Line of Actual Control saw an increase in the number of Chinese troops with large trucks roaming around the border.

Since then, Chinese military activity on the border has been reported. In May 2020, there were also reports of Chinese troops patrolling the lake bordering Ladakh.

India accuses China of unilaterally changing the border and lays claim to Galwan. According to Indian politicians, the Galwan Valley has always been part of India. There has never been any controversy over this.

In the annual report for the year 2018-19, the Indian Ministry of Defense had said that India had marked an area of ​​3812 km on the Indo-China border for road construction and 3418 km of road construction work had been handed over to the Border Roads Organization and most of these projects have been completed.

Experts on the Indo-China border dispute say the construction work is the root cause of the dispute between the two countries, but they also believe that it is not the only reason for the tension between the two countries in the context of various circumstances and events that happened in the past.

According to Indian experts, the repeal of Article 370 by the Indian government in August last year was intended to change India’s foreign policy, China’s domestic politics, and to maintain its position in world politics during the Corona era.

Earlier, in 1975, the Chinese army crossed the LAC in Arunachal Pradesh and ambushed the army patrol that resulted in the killings of many Indian soldiers. Meanwhile, several meetings were held between the heads of the two countries. It seemed that everything was going well along the border as well as in trade.

Since Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of India, he has met the President of China 18 times in the last six years. But tensions between the two countries appear to be rising in the wake of the violence.

The government in India has been accused by the opposition of failing to deal with the current situation and has ceded the Indian Territory to China.

India has blamed China for a June 15 violent clash between Indian and Chinese forces in the Gulwan Valley in eastern Ladakh.

In a statement on Thursday (25 June), Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said China had been gathering troops and weapons at the LAC since early May. According to him, this is a violation of bilateral agreements between China and India.

The spokesperson said that India has never tried to change the LAC while China is increasing its influence there.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman also criticized Pakistan, saying that Pakistan’s retention in the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) gray list supports India’s position.

Question 3: How many Indian soldiers were killed in the Galwan Valley?

At least 20 Indian soldiers have been killed in violent clashes between Chinese and Indian troops. All these were 16 soldiers of the Bihar Regiment. At first, the first three soldiers were reported killed, but later the Indian Army issued a statement saying that 17 other soldiers who were seriously injured had also died.

Question 4: How many Chinese soldiers were killed in this clash?

China never states the number of its soldiers killed in any war. The same question was asked by PTI in a press conference of the Chinese Foreign Ministry on June 17. “Do you confirm that the Indian media is talking about the casualties of Chinese soldiers”?

In response to this question, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhou Lijian said, “as far what you saw in the media, for example, some people alleged that casualties on the Chinese side amounted to 40, I can tell you for sure that this is fake news”

Question 5: Why Indian soldiers did not use weapons?

 Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar tweeted, “All troops on the border duty always carry arms, especially when leaving post. Those at Galwan on 15 June did so. Long-standing practice (as per 1996 & 2005 agreements) not to use firearms during faceoffs”

The Galwan Valley is located near the Indo-China border between Ladakh and Aksai Chin.

Both India and China lay claim to Aksai Chin. The valley extends from southern Xinjiang in China to Ladakh in India. These areas are strategically important to India as they share borders with Pakistan, China’s Xinjiang, and Ladakh.

Even during the 1962 war, this area of ​​the Galwan River was the center of the war. The mountains on both sides of the valley are useful to the military in combat tactics. Even in the heat of June, the temperature here remains in negative.

According to historians, the place was named after Ghulam Rasool Galwan, a common Ladakhi man. It was Ghulam Rasool who discovered this place.

India is claiming that it is building a road in its territory in the Galwan Valley, which China has blocked. This road will be of great benefit to India throughout the region. This road is very important for providing supplies to the troops stationed near Karakoram Pass.

Question 7: What is the Line of Actual Control (LAC)? How is it different from the Line of Control (LoC)?

The total length of India’s land border is 15,000 km, comprising a total of seven countries. In addition, there is a maritime border of about seven and a half thousand kilometers. According to the Indian government, the seven countries are Bangladesh about 4,000 km, China 3,488 km, Pakistan 3,323 km, Nepal 1,751 km, Myanmar 1,643 km, Bhutan 699 km, and Afghanistan 106 km.

India shares a 3,488 km border with China. The border passes through Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

Because of the conflicts, there has never been a demarcation between the two countries. To maintain the status quo, however, the term Line of Actual Control (LAC) was used.

More than seven decades have passed. Jammu and Kashmir has been the biggest source of tension between India and Pakistan. The region is currently divided by the Line of Control, with India on one side and Pakistan on the other. It is called the India-Pakistan Line of Control.

Question No. 8: What will the two countries do next after this latest conflict?

On June 17, China claimed sovereignty in the Galwan Valley, which India called an arrogant and hollow claim. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhou Lijian said, “China has always had the sovereignty of the Galwan Valley. Indian troops seriously violated the border protocol and the agreement reached at our commander-level talks”. He also said that China no longer wants conflict.

On the other hand, Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said on Wednesday (24 June) that the foreign ministers of the two countries had spoken on the phone and agreed that the whole situation would be handled responsibly.

The Indian spokesman also said that the Chinese military had tried to carry out construction work on the Indian side of the LAC. Diplomatic and military talks are currently underway between the two countries.

Question No. 9: When were the previous clashes between India and China?

The Indo-China War of 1962, which lasted for about a month, in which China won and India lost. Jawaharlal Nehru himself lamented in Parliament, “We were far removed from the reality of the modern world and we were living in an artificial environment that we had created.”

In this way, he almost accepted the fact that he had made a big mistake in believing that China would not do much more than the border tensions, the clashes at the patrol level, and so on. After the 1962 war, both India and China withdrew their ambassadors.

Question 10: What effect will this tension have on the bilateral relations between the two countries?

It’s a little difficult to answer directly. Talks are still ongoing between the two countries. The next few months will be crucial for both. Experts believe that in order to deal with the latest situation, the talks should be held at the political level and not at the military level.

Both countries have made it clear that they want to resolve the issue through dialogue.

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