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4, 9 or 14? Even China ‘isn’t sure’ how many PLA soldiers died in Galwan Valley

During talks with India, Chinese officials have — unofficially — given contradictory figures for their Galwan clash casualties. China has officially acknowledged 4 deaths.

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New Delhi: How many soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were killed in the face-off with the Indian Army at Galwan Valley on 15 June last year? Was it four? Or nine? Or 14? 

It seems even the PLA is not really sure.

During various levels of talks with India, Chinese officials have, at different points of time, unofficially, given contradictory figures for their Galwan clash casualties, sources in the defence and security establishment told ThePrint. 

The figures — shared informally, especially in breaktime conversations during dialogue sessions — varied from 5-14, even as China has publicly accepted only four deaths so far.

Contrary to the perception that the Indian side was outnumbered by the PLA in the Galwan Valley, it was the Chinese that faced the brunt and they had to call in reinforcements, which came at night, the sources said. 

The entire clash, they added, took place in the Y-junction area, which is within Indian territory, and it was the Chinese that intruded.

While the Indian establishment does not have a concrete figure on Chinese fatalities, their estimate is that the PLA lost between 25 and 40 personnel, including at least one officer.

The Galwan Valley clash marked the first time in 45 years that soldiers died in a clash on the India-China border. Twenty men of the Indian Army, including a Colonel, died in the face-off. 

Since India and China followed a no-firing protocol, in line with a 1996 agreement, the Chinese employed crude weapons, including rods studded with nails, in the clash. In the wake of the Galwan Valley episode, Indian soldiers were allowed to open fire at the LAC in self-defence.

Also Read: Coercion, not accommodation — India and China need a new compact for 3,488-km border

Different estimates from Chinese

Last September, it was learnt, the Chinese told the Indian side that five PLA soldiers, including a commanding officer, had died in the clash. At the time, a top South Block official had told ThePrint, “If the Chinese are saying five, we can easily double it if not triple it.”

However, the latest revelations suggest the Chinese gave different numbers at different times, with one estimate claiming 14 PLA deaths.

According to the sources, both sides try to source more information from each other during conversations, especially during breaks.

“The Chinese have never officially spoken about casualty figures (during bilateral talks), except once, saying during a higher-level talk that they had also lost a Colonel-rank officer,” a source in the know said.

Another source said, “During the talks, there are various sub teams that are formed for carrying forward the negotiations. During conversations, one Chinese official once said they suffered five casualties. Another time, another claimed nine, and the figure went up till 14 over a period of time.”

It isn’t clear whether the multiple figures given at various points of time was part of a Chinese strategy to confuse the Indian side, the sources said. 

“The fact is that the Chinese suffered casualties. It is only now, after several months, that they have accepted the death of four soldiers. Remember that they have honoured four soldiers posthumously and not given out total casualty figures,” a third source said.

The source was referring to the fact that China honoured five soldiers — four of them posthumously — on 19 February, eight months after the clash.

‘Galwan clash carried on through the night’

Eight months after the clash, a clearer picture appears to be emerging about the circumstances of the face-off. 

The Galwan Valley clash, sources said, began at dusk on 15 June and went on through the night. It was only the next morning that the clash stopped and both sides pulled back and picked up their injured, the sources added.

During debriefing sessions with those involved in the clash, it was found that they all only knew and remembered what happened in their immediate vicinity, and not the overall picture, the sources said.

Some soldiers offered vivid accounts of the fight that they had and how they were able to inflict casualties on the Chinese side.

“It was dark and there was total confusion. There was intense hand-to-hand combat taking place through the darkness. The Indian soldiers had fibre sticks with them and the Chinese brought in some crude weapons. In many cases, the weapons were snatched and used on the Chinese,” one of the sources cited above said.

The source added that despite grave provocation by the Chinese, and intense fighting, no soldier opened fire even though they had weapons on them.

“Opening of fire is only done on orders. There was intense physical fighting happening and no one opened fire as the orders were not given. Moreover, in such close combat, opening of fire was also impossible, for Indians and the Chinese, as it could have resulted in friendly-fire casualties on both sides,” the source said. 

Also Read: How does PLA see India’s strategic ambitions? Chinese military document holds clues


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  1. So SNEHESH ALEX PHILIP know everything, heard everything of PLA casual talks with IA, and hold highest authority in both countries to decide the casualty numbers.

    What kind of f00lish clown writing such incredible nonsense with zero credibility. The Print has allowed itself to become a junk site to post nonsense propaganda.

    Btw, China’s released video has proven, its IA armed with sticks and shields that crossed river over to China’s LAC to attack in hundreds against a dozen of negotiating PLA.

    Unlike Snehesh lies, there were no weapons carried by both sides. And IA had flee after PLA reinforcement arrived, abandoned 20 deads & hundred of injured jawans that were captured and saved by PLA.

    IA can always released its own video to prove otherwise, what is stopping it till today? Why feku admitted nobody enter India territory? Why VK Singh exclaimed IA had intruded China’s LAC at least 50x more? Because they knew China had all the evidences.

    • Lol, another chini clown spotted…What video are u talking about???I saw your so called video…the whole 1 year long incident summarized by 2-3 min by a chini propaganda machine and you believe world will believe you??? Wake up and smell the salt….Indians are not your other neibours that you bully on daily basis.
      2ndly IA abandoned their soldiers??? Where?? Where is the proof??? Can you show me any of your so called video??? Unlike Indian Army who shows utmost respect to their fellow soldiers, Chinese don’t even consider death of their soldier a big deal. That’s why showing a fake number if casualty after almost 10 freaking month…Chinese abandoned their soldiers dead body, such a shame….
      Why would IA will release it’s own propaganda video while we can make your Chinese army go back to their pit??? Why would one bite a dog if the dog bites you unless you are a Chinese

  2. RIP Indian Braves.

    All said and done, our northern neighbour has not learnt first hand how tough the Indian Army is and more importantly that there is only one country in their neighborhood which will “Fire To Kill” if provoked.

    With this realisation, they have packed their bags and left, hopefully not to return again.

  3. Whether they admit or not, but their losses were eye opening to them. They learnt a hard lesson which they are unlikely to forget.

  4. It is too much to expect the Chinese to admit their casualty numbers. Open and honest communication has never been their forte.

  5. “The figures — shared informally, especially in breaktime conversations during dialogue sessions”—you pay this kind of reporters????
    So you are now publishing I heard I believed kind of stories???? does it do any good for the credibility of your portal????
    Any body who has a bit of head left over shoulder will die laughing by reading this kind of nonsense. If you believe PLA is hiding something then don’t we have our much vaunted RAW (Bollywood’s own CIA :)) to contradict them with clear irrefutable PROOFs and give us a clear picture? Try to find a little more sophisticated spin doctor than this half anglo moron(if he has not falsified his name like those 1 rupee jai hind trolls) .

    • OK so that means you completely beleive what PLA has to say , that means you even want to say that India entered Chinese Terrortiry

    • The reporter is very much Indian and used to work in the Army. Pakistanis should stop ‘profiling’ people with their names. India has people from every possible faith claiming her as their homeland, unlike Pakistan that is on a mission to weed out all but their co-religionists. China like Pakistan, the PLA like the Pakistani military is less known for its reliance on facts and fortitude than on subversion, lies and deceit and hence not too surprising that the two are BFF.

    • After venting your ire, please send a request to the Chinese for the post mortem reports. Am sure they will courier it to your doorstep. You please inform us the number then.

  6. The Chinese do not want us to know the numbers, it is difficult to believe that an Army has no count of it’s dead or wounded. What ever happened there, was not cost less for China and they were not willing to pay additional costs over all hence the disengagement

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