New Delhi: The infamous picture of the Chinese flag being unfurled in the Galwan valley on New Year Day was from within Chinese territory and over 1.2 km from the Indian side, latest geotagging data has revealed.
The picture had caused a political furore in India last month, with Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi, among others, taking a dig at the Modi government over the pictures. The Army had responded at the time with pictures of Indian soldiers in the Galwan valley.
Now, satellite imagery expert Damien Symon, who goes by his popular Twitter handle @detresfa_, has released new pictures showing that the Chinese flag was unfurled outside the buffer zone that has been created as part of the disengagement process in the Galwan valley.
The valley first came into focus after it saw a deadly clash between troops of the Indian Army and People’s Liberation Army in July 2020.
Symon added that the Chinese flag ceremony took place at a new PLA post outside the buffer zone.
“GEOINT derived from combining ground & satellite images helps cut the clutter around claims alleging #China hoisted a flag at the #Galwan river bend, data extracted indicates the ceremony, held in January was 1.2 km from the bend at a new PLA post outside the buffer zone (sic),” he said.
GEOINT derived from combining ground & satellite images helps cut the clutter around claims alleging #China hoisted a flag at the #Galwan river bend, data extracted indicates the ceremony, held in January was 1.2 km from the bend at a new PLA post outside the buffer zone pic.twitter.com/04L66agC78
— Damien Symon (@detresfa_) February 8, 2022
Symon also released the full video of the Chinese ceremony and geotagged the positions, indicating that it was held well within Chinese territory.
As part of its propaganda, the Chinese state media had put out edited video and pictures on 1 January, with the caption, “national flag rise over Galwan Valley on the New Year Day of 2022”. It had even said that this flag was very special since it once flew over Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
🇨🇳China’s national flag rise over Galwan Valley on the New Year Day of 2022.
This national flag is very special since it once flew over Tiananmen Square in Beijing. pic.twitter.com/fBzN0I4mCi
— Shen Shiwei 沈诗伟 (@shen_shiwei) January 1, 2022
The video was released after Indian and Chinese troops exchanged sweets and greetings at 10 border points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), including in eastern Ladakh and north Sikkim on 1 January.
Political controversy in India
The Chinese claim had led to a political row in India, with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and others taking potshots at the government and saying that only the Indian flag should fly in Galwan.
गलवान पर हमारा तिरंगा ही अच्छा लगता है।
चीन को जवाब देना होगा।
मोदी जी, चुप्पी तोड़ो!
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) January 2, 2022
The Army responded to the controversy a few days later, releasing two photographs of troops holding a large tricolour in Galwan in eastern Ladakh as part of the New Year celebration.
Sources had then told ThePrint that contrary to claims, the Chinese flag was hoisted inside Chinese territory. They had also said that the majority of the Galwan valley is under Chinese territory.
So far, India and China have held 14 rounds of Corps Commander-level talks.
Disengagement has happened at four of the five stand-off points in eastern Ladakh since May 2020 — Galwan valley, northern bank of Pangong Tso, Kailash Range and Gogra.
However, disengagement is pending in the Hot Springs area while there are legacy issues of Demchok and Depsang Plains, which also need to be tackled.
(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)