New Delhi: China Thursday evening returned 10 Indian soldiers, who had been in their custody since Monday’s clash in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh, after a prolonged discussion at the major general level. The 10 soldiers included two majors and two captains.
As many as 20 Indian soldiers, including the Commanding Officer of 16 Bihar Colonel Santosh Babu, were killed in action in Monday’s clash.
The Army had issued a statement Thursday saying “it is clarified that no Indian troops are missing in action”. While it did not mention the release, the statement was a clear indication that the soldiers have returned.
Sources in the defence and security establishment said the main focus of the high-level talks since Tuesday had been the release of the Indian soldiers. The issue was also discussed during the diplomatic parleys going on between the two countries.
Official sources also told ThePrint that it was always the understanding that information about such sensitive matters will not be released unless both sides come to an “amicable solution”, which is the release of the 10 soldiers.
The announcement by the Ministry of External Affairs that no soldiers were missing in action was made only after it was ascertained through diplomatic channels that China would be releasing them, the sources said.
Both sides have held several rounds of talks at diplomatic and military levels to ease tensions and are now looking to soon have a dialogue on the border affairs under the ‘Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on Border Affairs (WMCC)’.
Military-level talks to continue
ThePrint had reported Tuesday that several Indian soldiers taken captive by China were returned following talks at a higher level on the same day.
However, it was learnt Wednesday morning that 10 soldiers are still missing. By afternoon, it was learnt that the 10 unaccounted for were in Chinese custody.
Sources said the Chinese had presented the captive soldiers to the Indian team Wednesday to show they were fine and not tortured.
According to the sources, all 10 soldiers walked back with the Indian team Thursday evening, indicating there were no major injuries.
The sources said the military-level talks will continue Friday as part of the earlier process to ease the tensions.
While there is a heavy build-up by the Chinese on its side of the Galwan Valley, the Finger areas of Pangong continue to be a problem.
The Chinese have come in till Finger 4 and have built structures to block the Indian patrol from moving ahead from that point till Finger 8, which is the LAC for India.
Latest satellite imagery reveals that massive construction has been done by China in this area.