Representational image | Soham Sen | ThePrint
Representational image | Soham Sen | ThePrint
Text Size:

New Delhi: It was a combination of “treachery” and breaking the terms of an agreement by the Chinese that led to the violent face-off in the Galwan Valley on the night of 15 June that left 20 Indian soldiers dead and several injured, ThePrint has learnt.

However, it was not a one-sided battle and the night witnessed an over 1-kilometre-long chase by the men from 16 Bihar Regiment and other units as the Chinese ran back to the safety of their units posted just across the Line of Actual Control (LAC), sources said.

ThePrint has spoken to a number of individuals in the know and has been able to construct a sequence of events that eventually ended with the Chinese being pushed back from the Indian territory that they briefly intruded into by a kilometre at the mouth of the Galwan Valley.


Also read: Galwan Valley has been & will always be India’s, says grandson of explorer it’s named after


Before 15 June: A military agreement

The events of last Monday night occurred along the Galwan River, which originates from Aksai Chin, and reaches the Shyok river, also known as the river of death. There is a particular point at which the Galwan river takes a sharp turn left and later meets the Shyok.

Patrol Point 14 (PP 14) is just ahead of this confluence of the Shyok-Galwan river.

Indian troops have traditionally patrolled till PP 14 but has never built a camp or any structure in accordance with the understanding between the two sides at the local level.

Similarly, the Chinese also patrol up to PP 14 from time to time. This is also the spot where the two sides meet to talk.

Early May, a Chinese tent was spotted at PP 14. This is deemed to be in Indian territory and the Indians challenged this construction in May itself and also confronted a group of Chinese soldiers who were attempting to trek down to the Shyok river.

Sources said that the Chinese later dismantled its tent and went back to their side beyond PP 14.

However, both sides had built up troops and were literally in a stand-off at PP 14.

After the 6 June meeting between 14 Corps Commander Lt Gen. Harinder Singh and his Chinese counterpart Major General Lin Liu, commander of the South Xinjiang Military District, it was decided that both sides will fall back by about 2 kilometres from their current positions at PP 14.

Accordingly, Indian troops moved behind and the Chinese did too.

However, sources said that a few days later, India found that the Chinese had reneged on the agreement and erected two fresh tents on a slope, including one which was suspected to be an observation point.

The Chinese were repeatedly asked to remove them and Indian troops forcefully dismantled one of the two tents and set it on fire on Sunday, 14 June.


Also read: Want to help Indian soldiers at LAC? Stop spreading assumptions about Galwan clash


On 15 June: The big fight

On 15 June, the Commanding Officer of the 16 Bihar Regiment, Col Santosh Babu, held talks with his Chinese counterpart at PP 14. It was decided that both sides would strictly adhere to the 6 June decisions, which would also mean that the Chinese would have to remove the structure on the slope.

At around 7 pm that night, as reported by ThePrint, Colonel Santosh along with a small group of officers and personnel went up to PP 14 to check if the Chinese had kept up their end of the agreement.

This is where the account blurs. Some sources say initially a Major and some non-commissioned officers (NCOs) had gone to PP 14 and were taken hostage, but others say it was Colonel Babu who went.

What is confirmed is that Col Santosh had about 40 other personnel with him, including officers and unit videographers, when he neared PP 14.

Seeing the tent still present, the CO asked his men to remove the tent. A small group of Chinese soldiers then came forward and began a verbal spat.

Sources said this slowly turned into pushing and shoving. At this time, the Indians outnumbered the Chinese.

This continued for about half an hour, and during the melee, the temporary structure was dismantled.

However, a larger group of Chinese soldiers came to the spot armed with iron rods, stones and even sticks with nails and barbed wires on them.

The Chinese had the tactical advantage here in terms of numbers, weapons and the geography.

The Chinese attacked the Indian soldiers and the Commanding Officer (CO) was hurt since he was at the forefront.

He fell in the icy cold waters of the Galwan River below even as the soldiers fought back with the sticks they were carrying.

The attack on the CO fired up the soldiers, who managed to wrangle the weapons being used by the Chinese away from them and turned it on them. They even fought with sheer physical force, the sources said.

“This was treachery by the Chinese. The attack on the Indian team was planned. The CO had gone there with his men in good faith because talks were held in a positive atmosphere during the day,” a source said.

Sources said that since the fight was happening over a ledge, many soldiers from both sides fell into the icy cold river water.

They added that of the 20 dead on the Indian side, about eight died directly as a result of hypothermia because they had injured themselves by falling on the rocks in the river below. It was Tuesday morning by the time a rescue was possible.

As the Indian side found out about the fight breaking out, back up was rushed in. This included troops from the 16 Bihar and other units that were posted in the area due to the stand off.

The names of these unit are not being disclosed for security and tactical reasons.

While more Indian soldiers armed with sticks rushed in, the Chinese threw stones and rolled down bigger stones onto the Indian team.

In the hand-to-hand combat, many Chinese soldiers were grievously injured, the sources said.

Such was the confusion at this point that each side pelting stones was also hitting their own soldiers.

“The area of the main fight was very narrow. In the melee, at one particular section, the Chinese were again overwhelmed by the Indian troops and they ran off to the main area of PP 14 behind which there was Chinese build up,” a source said.

A group of Indian soldiers chased them and crossed over what is the Line of Actual Control (LAC), an undrawn line.

It is here that 10 Indian soldiers were held captive since the Chinese had a bigger build-up, sources said.

The fight continued for several hours into the darkness till it subsided with both sides pulling apart.


Also read: Galwan clash is a turning point as Indian soldiers give Chinese a bloody nose


16 June: The morning after

In the morning, both sides decided to halt the fight and rescue the injured and take away bodies.

Some of the soldiers who ended up in custody on the other side were returned following the Major General level talks near PP 14.

Both sides made sure that the injured were taken care of.

However, it was only on Thursday that the Chinese returned the 10 who had crossed over the LAC in the chase.

“It was a clash that began with Chinese treachery. It was a clash of great heroism of the troops posted there who fought back the Chinese and taught the Chinese a lesson not to mess with India,” a source said.

Since the Monday clash, the Chinese have withdrawn from the Indian territory at PP 14 and have gone back to their side in accordance with the decisions taken on 6 June.

The Indians too have gone back but have maintained a strict vigil. The future talks, including the one held on 22 June, will focus on more de-escalation and will follow a policy of specifying how many troops will be at what distance from the LAC, besides new patrolling tactics.


Also read: China has an Achilles’ heel. India must take the battle there from LAC


 

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it

India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.

But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.

ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.

Support Our Journalism

35 Comments Share Your Views

35 COMMENTS

  1. Tables were turned when the Sikhs of 3 Punjab Rgmt had rushed to the rescue of Biharis whose CO was killed and 10 men including 4 officers taken prisonor. Although Sikhs too lost 4 men, they had succeeded in capturing the Chinese CO that had helped to obtain the release of 10 Biharis next day. However, while the sacrifice of the Biharis is appropriately eulogised, the valour and achievement of Sikhs is not even mentioned.

  2. It is very clear here, after physical fights, both sides decided to go back to finger fourteen. Which where India claims its territory or boundaries and after this Mr Modi made his statement that China did not take Indian territory. Technically he was right, then why people are making noise and political points.

  3. India and china should manage the situation at interest of the people of their country. Others should not take the opurtunity to cook their dal at cost of our countrymen.

  4. I would really wonder how the hell Chinese were allowed to pitch a tent at pp14 once they were chased away.I think this is not a correct information.

  5. For the first time “The Print”is publishing some sensible news otherwise it always publishes anti-india fake news. One of the worst e-news portal that comes under traitor catagory.

  6. Things will continue to come.. we indian always live in reality and face situation as it comes and prepare yourself for any eventuality…that’s bharat. Rest assured…false propaganda by enemies will fail sooner or later

  7. Indian Army, the last bastion of true Indianness, unaffected by the toxic poison of the Left, liberals, traitors and jihadis.

  8. Things are not easy with Chinese as they have time and again proved not to be credible lot so may some other scrupulous move must be brewing on Chinese side

  9. Indians are known for their bravery and commitment while china is known for its tactics so we must not trust chinese and without weapons no patrolling should be done also there should ne boundary for permanent bases instead of mutual understanding as we are not prepared for next betrayal

  10. So here it started coming the bollywood stories. It’s understandable that it takes time to write stories like these.
    The fact is that 100s of Indians were brutally injured and killed by Chinese.

  11. I thought The Print was a serious news paper and would not allow such unbelievable news to be published which seem to be an insult to the intelligence of large literate population of India. This can be best be an unsuccessful attempt to salvage the highly aggressive image of Modi government which in the first place was not required. No wonder it is said that ” One who has the argument does not need to shout ” ultimately truth would come out and there are even chances that India may be able to strike a win – win deal with China

  12. @Snehsh,
    Great piece, a simple suggestion.
    When describing chronology of event, please stick to either just Dates or Days or both. I had to go back to my calendar to check the date for Thursday.
    Keep them coming.

  13. Story seems very similar to India today report by shiv Aroor. Some lines altered like chasing seems fictional . Plagiarism or what?
    And the other regiment was 3 Punjab regiment. That’s why there were punjabis in the casualty list. Rest seems okay.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here