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Indians demand revenge on China after soldiers fought to the death with nail-studded clubs

Indians are demanding revenge on China after soldiers of the nuclear-armed nations brawled with nail-studded clubs leaving up to 70 dead at the disputed Himalayan border. 

India’s government was silent today on the fallout from clashes with China’s People’s Liberation Army that the Indian army said claimed 20 soldiers’ lives on Monday night. 

China reported 43 casualties without specifying how many PLA men were killed in the grisly battle fought with sticks, batons and nail-studded bamboo in the Ladakh region. 

Despite India initially reporting just two deaths, its army yesterday revealed the horrific scale of the violence which left 20 Indians dead, including a colonel.  

Indian security forces said neither side fired any shots in the clash which was the first deadly confrontation along the 2,175 mile frontier since 1975.   

Three Indian soldiers, including a senior army officer, were killed Monday night in a confrontation with Chinese forces along a disputed border area in the Himalayas (the red territory is controlled by India, and the beige and grey stripes, Aksai Chin, is Chinese but claimed by India)

Indian soldiers erect a military bunker along the Srinagar-Leh National highway on June 16, 2020

Indian soldiers erect a military bunker along the Srinagar-Leh National highway on June 16, 2020

Colonel B Santosh Babu (pictured) was one of the officers reported dead in the confrontation on the Ladakh border today

Colonel B Santosh Babu (pictured) was one of the officers reported dead in the confrontation on the Ladakh border today 

As per a 1996 bilateral agreement, Indian and Chinese soldiers are barred from taking guns within two kilometres of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). 

While experts said the two nations were unlikely to head into a war, they also believe easing tensions quickly will be difficult. 

The 1962 Sino-Indian War

Aksai Chin, the site of the latest tensions, is located either in the Indian state of Ladakh or the Chinese region of Xinjiang.

It is an almost uninhabited high-altitude scrubland traversed by the Xinjiang-Tibet Highway.

The other disputed territory is hundreds of miles away to the east of Tibet. 

The 1962 Sino-Indian War was fought on these two frontiers as Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru put it, a struggle over land where ‘not even a blade of grass grows.’ 

Chinese motivations for the war centred on perceived efforts by India to subvert Beijing’s interests in Tibet.

Just a few years before the war, the Indians had granted asylum to the Dalai Lama after the 1959 Tibetan uprising.

According to the CIA, the Chinese ‘were motivated to attack by one primary consideration – their determination to retain the ground on which PLA forces stood in 1962 and to punish the Indians for trying to take that ground.’

Indian motivations included testing Chinese resolve, finding out who the Soviets would back and to garner sympathy from the United States. 

The war left thousands dead on both sides.

Much of the reason for the ongoing conflict is the ill-defined border, the result of a confused status the region had during the colonial era, which was made more murky by India’s war with Pakistan in 1947.

China has never accepted India’s definition of the border – ‘the McMahaon line’ – a hangover from British rule. 

Today’s conflict, according to some security analysts, lies in India’s revocation last year of the special autonomy granted to Jammu and Kashmir – the disputed region lying in northern Kashmir.

The Chinese are understood to be concerned that India’s powers in the region could cut off an economic corridor Beijing has to Pakistan. 

This route into the subcontinent is believed to be essential to President Xi Jinping’s centrepiece Belt and Road trade plan.

Indian Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Aman Anand did not respond immediately to queries on the situation Wednesday or whether talks were planned to defuse the tensions. 

‘This will likely be a watershed moment in India-China relations and the geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific,’ said Abraham Denmark, Asia program director at The Wilson Center. ‘We’ve already seen the deadliest clash on the China-India border in over 50 years, both countries are led by men who have embraced nationalism, and both countries are facing tremendous domestic and international upheaval as a result of COVID-19 and other long-standing problems.’

The main questions now are if either side can find a path to deescalation and whether India’s allies such as the United States will help. ‘It is a highly volatile and dangerous situation between two nationalistic, nuclear powers at a time when American influence has badly diminished,’ Denmark said.

The editorial published in the Global Times on Wednesday said India’s reaction was largely due to encouragement from the U.S., China’s chief strategic rival which has been steadily building relations with India’s military.

‘The arrogance and recklessness of the Indian side is the main reason for the consistent tensions along China-India borders,’ the editorial said. China ‘does not and will not create conflicts, but it fears no conflicts either,’ it said.

China claims about 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) of territory in India’s northeast, while India says China occupies 38,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles) of its territory in the Aksai Chin Plateau in the Himalayas, a contiguous part of the Ladakh region.

India unilaterally declared Ladakh a federal territory while separating it from disputed Kashmir in August 2019. China was among the handful of countries to strongly condemn the move, raising it at international forums including the U.N. Security Council.

Thousands of soldiers on both sides have faced off over a month along a remote stretch of the 3,380-kilometer (2,100-mile) Line of Actual Control, the border established following a war between India and China in 1962 that resulted in an uneasy truce.

The Indian Army said three soldiers died initially. The 17 others died after being ‘critically injured in the line of duty and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high-altitude terrain,’ it said in a statement Tuesday that did not disclose the nature of the soldiers’ injuries.

The troops fought each other with fists and rocks, Indian security officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the information. 

After the clash, the two sides ‘disengaged’ from the area where the the fighting happened, the Indian Army statement said.

The United Nations urged both sides ‘to exercise maximum restraint.’

Indian army soldiers rest next to artillery guns at a makeshift transit camp before heading to Ladakh, near Baltal, southeast of Srinagar today

Indian army soldiers rest next to artillery guns at a makeshift transit camp before heading to Ladakh, near Baltal, southeast of Srinagar today

An Indian Border Security Force soldier walks near a check post along the Srinagar-Leh National highway today

An Indian Border Security Force soldier walks near a check post along the Srinagar-Leh National highway today

Indian soldiers erect a military bunker along the Srinagar-Leh National highway today

Indian soldiers erect a military bunker along the Srinagar-Leh National highway today

‘We are concerned about reports of violence and deaths at the Line of Actual Control between India and China,’ U.N. associate spokesperson Eri Kaneko said. ‘We take positive note of reports that the two countries have engaged to de escalate the situation.’

Michael Kugelman, a South Asia specialist at the Wilson Center, said that the two countries were unlikely to go to war because they cannot ‘afford a conflict.’

‘But let’s be clear: It beggars belief to think that they can magically deescalate after a deadly exchange with such a higher number of fatalities,’ he said. ‘This crisis isn’t ending anytime soon.’

Vivek Katju, a retired Indian diplomat, said the deadly violence represented a dramatic departure from the four-decades-old status quo of troops from the two countries staring each other down without any fatalities. 

Activists of Sanskriti Bhchan Manch shout slogans as they stage a protest against China, holding posters of Chinese President Xi Jinping, in Bhopal, India, 16 June

Activists of Sanskriti Bhchan Manch shout slogans as they stage a protest against China, holding posters of Chinese President Xi Jinping, in Bhopal, India, 16 June

Indians burn images of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Bhopal today after news of the violence at the border broke

Indians burn images of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Bhopal today after news of the violence at the border broke

‘The political class and the security class as a whole will have to do very serious thinking about the road ahead,’ he said.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement that the incident happened ‘as a result of an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo’ in the Galwan Valley.

Thousands of soldiers from the two countries, backed by armored trucks and artillery, have been stationed just a few hundred meters (yards) apart for more than a month in the Ladakh region that lies nearTibet. Military and diplomatic meetings have yielded no breakthrough.

Indian authorities have officially maintained near-total silence on the issues related to the confrontation

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a televised meeting with state officials Tuesday and did not comment on the clash. 

Believed to have been filmed around two weeks ago on the banks of Pangong Lake, a mile into Indian territory, the footage purports to show Indian forces battering a People's Liberation Army soldier and smashing up a Chinese armoured car

Believed to have been filmed around two weeks ago on the banks of Pangong Lake, a mile into Indian territory, the footage purports to show Indian forces battering a People's Liberation Army soldier and smashing up a Chinese armoured car

Believed to have been filmed in mid-May on the banks of Pangong Lake, a mile into Indian territory, footage purports to show Indian forces battering a People’s Liberation Army soldier and smashing up a Chinese armoured car 

Pro-Beijing social media accounts recently posted images purporting to show Indian troops battered and bound with rope on the banks of a lake in the disputed region on the Himalayan border

Pro-Beijing social media accounts recently posted images purporting to show Indian troops battered and bound with rope on the banks of a lake in the disputed region on the Himalayan border

The tense standoff started in early May, when Indian officials said that Chinese soldiers crossed the boundary in Ladakh at three different points, erecting tents and guard posts and ignoring verbal warnings to leave. That triggered shouting matches, stone-throwing and fistfights, much of it replayed on television news channels and social media.

China has sought to downplay the confrontation while saying the two sides were communicating through both their front-line military units and their respective embassies to resolve issues.

Though skirmishes aren’t new along the frontier, the standoff at Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, where India is building a strategic road connecting the region to an airstrip close to China, has escalated in recent weeks.

The last fatalities along the disputed border was in 1975, when Chinese troops killed four Indian soldiers in an ambush in the Twang region of northeastern India’s Arunachal Pradesh state, said Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda, a former head of the Indian military’s Northern Command.

‘It’s a very complicated and serious situation, and it will take real, hard negotiating skills to resolve this,’ Hooda said.  

Troops from the two countries have been facing off along the disputed frontier for more than a month (file photo)

Troops from the two countries have been facing off along the disputed frontier for more than a month (file photo)

Relations were believed to have eased following two meetings between Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) in recent years. Pictured: The pair at a meeting in India in 2014

Relations were believed to have eased following two meetings between Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) in recent years. Pictured: The pair at a meeting in India in 2014 

Key dates in India-China border tensions 

Asian regional superpowers India and China share a long history of mistrust and conflict along their lengthy border, and tensions flared up this week in a deadly clash between troops.

The world’s two most populous nations and nuclear-armed neighbours have never even agreed on the length of their ‘Line of Actual Control’ frontier, which straddles the strategically important Himalayan region.

Recent decades have seen numerous skirmishes along the border, including a brief but bloody war in 1962.

Here are some key dates:

– Nehru’s 1959 Beijing visit –

India inherited its border dispute with China from its British colonial rulers, who hosted a 1914 conference with the Tibetan and Chinese governments to set the border.

Beijing has never recognised the 1914 boundary, known as the McMahon Line, and currently claims 90,000 square kilometres (34,750 square miles) of territory – nearly all of what constitutes India’s Arunachal Pradesh state.

The border dispute first flared up during a visit by India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru to Beijing in 1959.

Nehru questioned the boundaries shown on official Chinese maps, prompting Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai to reply that his government did not accept the colonial frontier.

– 1962 Sino-Indian War –

Chinese troops poured over the disputed frontier with India in 1962 during a row over the border’s demarcation. It sparked a four-week war that left thousands dead on the Indian side before China’s forces withdrew.

Beijing retained Aksai Chin, a strategic corridor linking Tibet to western China. India still claims the entire Aksai Chin region as its own, as well as the nearby China-controlled Shaksgam valley in northern Kashmir.

– 1967 Nathu La conflict –

Another flashpoint was Nathu La, India’s highest mountain pass in northeastern Sikkim state, which is sandwiched between Bhutan, Chinese-ruled Tibet and Nepal.

During a series of clashes, including the exchange of artillery fire, New Delhi said some 80 Indian soldiers died and counted up to 400 Chinese casualties.

– 1975 Tulung La ambush –

This skirmish was the last time shots were officially reported to have been fired across the disputed border.

Four Indian soldiers were ambushed and killed along the dividing line in Arunachal Pradesh.

New Delhi blamed Beijing for crossing into Indian territory, a claim dismissed by China.

– 2017 Doklam plateau stand-off –

India and China had a months-long high-altitude standoff in Bhutan’s Doklam region after the Indian army sent troops to stop China constructing a road in the area.

The Doklam plateau is strategically significant as it gives China access to the so-called ‘chicken’s neck’ – a thin strip of land connecting India’s northeastern states with the rest of the country.

It is claimed by both China and Bhutan, an ally of India. The issue was resolved after talks.

– 2020 Ladakh confrontation –

Tensions have boiled over again after several Indian and Chinese soldiers were injured in a high-altitude fist fight on the border at Sikkim state in early May.

Indian officials said that within days, Chinese troops encroached over the demarcation line further west in Ladakh region and India then moved in extra troops to positions opposite.

Last week both countries said they would peacefully resolve the face-off after a high-level meeting between army commanders.

But on Monday, India said three of its soldiers were killed in a violent clash in the strategically important Galwan Valley on the Himalayan frontier.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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