New Delhi: While negotiations were already going on at the military and diplomatic levels, Chinese troops tried to attack and capture Indian Army positions at least twice in Eastern Ladakh between September 2021 and November 2022, leading to clashes that left several Chinese soldiers injured, new details have revealed.
The sensational revelations, including covert operations by Indian soldiers, came out through the investiture ceremony held by two commands of the Indian Army over the weekend. This ceremony divulged the heroism of soldiers in these clashes, for which they were feted on that day.
In August 2020 the Galwan clash was not the only skirmish but there were several that predated it, including all-night clashes that led to serious injuries on both sides.
New information about the so-far unreported clashes gives deeper insight into the tension between the two nuclear-armed powers, which have been engaged in a stand-off since May 2020.
As information trickled out about the clashes, the Western Command took down the YouTube video of the investiture ceremony in which the citations of soldiers who were awarded gallantry medals for their acts of bravery across the Army’s operational areas, including in Eastern Ladakh, were read out.
The investiture ceremony by the Central Command revealed the bravery of a major in the Para SF, the Army’s elite commando unit, who while posted to another sector had crossed over to the “enemy” side and was able to provide 120 hours of live feed of military movement on the other side, despite tough weather conditions.
While China was not named, this sector shares a boundary with Tibet which is under Chinese occupation.
About developments in Eastern Ladakh, it is now known that People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers had attacked an Indian Army post at a location called Shankar Tekri along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on 7 January 2022.
The citation of a sepoy from the Sikh Light Infantry said that he, “with unmatched valor”, took on intruding Chinese troops in a “brutal hand-to-hand battle” and repulsed the attack while also wounding four PLA soldiers and taking away their rifles.
The citations also revealed another clash on 27 November 2022 when about 50 PLA soldiers tried to cross the LAC at Atari Post.
Just like the sepoy, in this case, a naib subedar from the 19th Battalion of the J&K Rifles was awarded the Sena Medal (Gallantry) for leading the charge against the invading PLA troops, which left around 15 of them injured. The naib subedar was also injured in the attack, but successfully led the operation to thwart the PLA.
The citations also revealed covert operations carried out by Indian troops. While days have not been revealed, an officer of the 15th Battalion of the Kumaon Regiment was awarded the Sena Medal (Gallantry) for leading a covert operation “deep within” Chinese territory. The operation remains classified and another soldier of the same battalion was awarded the Sena Medal (Gallantry) for the same.
The citations also revealed the bravery of another officer, deputed to the Intelligence Corps, who on 16 September 2022 went into “enemy territory” as part of Snow Leopard, the name for the Indian Army operation in Eastern Ladakh.
Despite suffering from high-altitude sickness, he continued and finished the task given to him without being discovered by the enemy. He was also awarded the Sena Medal (Gallantry) for what the citation called “displaying stealth and tactical skill, enhancing India’s strategic edge in the area”.
Army chief General Manoj Pande had last week said that the situation at the LAC with China was “stable but sensitive”. He had spelled out what India wanted China to do militarily to end the stand-off.