Nearly 24 hours after 20 Indian soldiers were killed at Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, Defence Minister for India Rajnath Singh gave his first comment by saying the loss of soldiers was ‘deeply disturbing and painful.’ The union minister also said that the nation would never forget their bravery and sacrifice. Interestingly, Singh, who didn’t mention or blame China for the incident in any of his tweets so far, made the remarks after the growing criticism over the perceived silence of Singh as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in a tweet on Wednesday said why was the PM ‘hiding and silent.’
Following the rising tensions, India faced its first deadly clash with China in the last 45 years. Officials on Tuesday said that 20 Indian soldiers and 43 Chinese troops were killed in a clash at the Valley.
Singh on his twitter handle wrote, “The Nation will never forget their bravery and sacrifice. My heart goes out to the families of the fallen soldiers. The nation stand shoulder to shoulder with them in this difficult hour. We are proud of the bravery and courage of India’s bravehearts.”
He further mentioned, “The loss of soldiers in Galwan is deeply disturbing and painful. Our soldiers displayed exemplary courage and valour in the line of duty and sacrificed their lives in the highest traditions of the Indian Army.”
In a massive escalation in the middle of efforts to defuse weeks of tension at the border, three Indian soldiers, Colonel B Santosh Babu, Havildar Palani and Sepoy Ojha were killed during the ‘violent face-off.’
While both sides claimed that no bullets had been fired, the casualties reportedly occurred after an exchange of stones and batons. Being critically injured during the attacks, number of Indian soldiers succumbed to the wounds, said Indian officials.
After the attacks, China did not confirm any casualties, but accused India of crossing the border. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said India had crossed the border twice on Monday, thus ‘provoking and attacking Chinese personnel, resulting in serious physical confrontation between border forces on the two sides.’
India’s External Affairs Ministry indicted China of trying to ‘unilaterally change status quo’ in the region. The foreign ministry said, “India is very clear that all its activities are always within the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control. We expect the same of the Chinese side.”
Following the list of events, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday evening. Defence Minister Rajnath along with Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, the three military chiefs and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar briefed PM Modi about the situation.
Off late, China has been upset about the Indian construction of roads and airstrips in the area. Chinese military spokesperson colonel Zhang Shuili on Tuesday claimed the majority of the region to be China owned and said, “China always owns sovereignty over the Galwan Valley region.” This is the first violent incident involving fatalities since 1975 between India and China, who fought a border war in 1962.