Army chief Gen MM Naravane held with commanders wide-ranging discussions regarding the deadlock in eastern Ladakh and the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China on 22 June. On the first day of the two-day conference, the commanders conducted a comprehensive review of India’s security preparedness on the Line of Actual Control (LoAC) in Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
Sources said Army chief Gen MM Naravane briefed the commanders about the military leadership’s assessment of the situation, which followed detailed discussions.
This is the second phase of the commanders’ conference held twice a year. The first phase of the conference was held last month. In the aftermath of the Galwan Valley incident, the government has given the armed forces “complete freedom” to respond to any misadventure by China over the 3,500-km-long LoAC.
Backdrop of army chief’s meeting with commanders
As many as 20 soldiers, including a commanding officer (colonel) of the Indian Army, were killed in a bloody clash between the two armies in the Galwan Valley last Monday (15 June) amid efforts to end the deadlock between Indo-Chinese forces in eastern Ladakh.
China has conceded the killing of Chinese soldiers including that of their commanding officer who had masterminded the ambush when, according to the agreement between the military heads of the two sides, troops on both sides should have vacated Patrolling Point 14 but China hadn’t. The Indian retaliation in the face of the ambush led to 50 Chinese casualties including deaths, grievous injuries and 18 permanent disabilities (broken necks and spines).
Chinese helicopters flew close to the LoAC throughout the day in search of wounded soldiers on the day of the incident even after the Indian Army respectfully returned their dead, implying that there were soldiers of the PLA missing after the deadly encounter, some of whom might have fallen off the precipice near Patrolling Point 14. The PLA made attempts to air-lift their injured soldiers. Official sources said that there was no firing between the two sides.
The clash of 15 June is the biggest conflict in Nathu La since the 1967 clash in which the Indian Army lost 88 soldiers and 163 jawans were wounded while the PLA lost 340 men and ended up with 450 injured soldiers.
Subsequently, in 1975, an Indian soldier was killed in a violent clash with the Chinese army. In 1975, four Indian soldiers were killed in an ambush at Tulung La in Arunachal Pradesh near the temporary border between the two countries.
The India-China frontier is witnessing a stand-off in Pangong So, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldi in eastern Ladakh. A large number of Chinese troops entered Indian territory inside the temporary border, including at Pangong Tso. The Indian Army lodged a strong objection to the infiltration and demanded PLA’s immediate withdrawal for peace and stability in the area. The two sides have held several talks over the past few days to resolve the deadlock.