The Gallant Gladiators of Galwan

by Brigadier (Dr) Vinod Dutta 10 months ago Views 947


Galwan Valley has been in the news since the beginning of May this year. The borders started simmering from the face-off on the western bank of Pangong Tso. The ridge on the northern bank has spurs running down to the lakes which look like fingers and hence called as fingers numbered from 1 to 8. India claims till finger 8 and China claims till finger 4; the face off started in finger 4 area.

Another incident took place at Nakula in Sikkim, where the Chinese side is claiming an area inside Indian territory. These two incidents were followed by the face-off in the Galwan valley. There have been face-offs in past too but they were in standalone mode and the simultaneity and strength was a cause for concern.

The aggressive and deceitful action on part of the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) was uncalled for and against the ethics of warfare and military diplomacy. This behaviour was not only different from other incidents but was certainly a deliberate, dastardly act.

It appeared that the incident was not locally triggered but coordinated at least at the Western Theatre command level of China, if not higher. The situation has now aggravated where both countries are involved. The talks at military level, diplomatic level were progressing well and the Lt General Level Talks between the two armies facing each other also were moving in right direction and it was agreed upon that the buffer zone will be established in Patrolling Point 14 (PP 14) the hot spot.

On the night of June 15 when the Chinese unilaterally violated the consensus arrived at by coming into Indian territory , Col Santosh Babu, Commanding Officer, along with some jawans went to inspect and verify and while doing so he was stopped. A scuffle started resulting in causalities for the first time after 1975. The Indians suffered 20 causalities including the Commanding Officer and Chinese suffered 43 (as reported in news) including a number of officers. The brave men of 16 BIHAR fought gallantly and gave the Chinese a bloody nose which sent them bruised and reminded them of the battle of Rezangla in the Himalayan conflict of 1962 where 120 Veer Ahirs of the Kumaon Regiment killed more than 2,000 Chinese soldiers fighting till the last man and last bullet.

The way ahead

China in the 19th and 20th century was subjected to shame and subjugation by western countries and it was relatively weak. Now, with the prowess of the industrial boom after concerted four decades of industrial churning, China is back as the second largest economy in the world; simultaneously it is also mustering its military might, especially under the tutelage of Xi Jinping. With the well-crafted expansion designs and military empowerment the Chinese military will be a force to reckon with by 2035 and China a super power by 2050.This is well articulated in defence and national policies. China has focused on the USA being its rival in world politics.

The Indian narrative is that in China’s eyes, India’s geographical area, demographic footprint, educational levels, pan world presence in IT, innovation and dedication, has the potential to challenge China, and hence Beijing sees us as a rival. So China feels India should not live up to its full potential and challenges it in many ways, like opposing our entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group , raising tensions on borders as a reminder of the power differential between us and then utilising Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh into surrogate conflict. India does not enjoy any comfort level with the Chinese, as our values are diametrically opposite and our open, transparent democratic set-up in politics, economics and social values is closer to the US and other democracies.

India needs to have stronger economic, scientific and military strength and reduce the asymmetry of power with China. We should not shy away from leveraging China’s vulnerabilities in Tibet, Taiwan, and Xinjiang.

Galwan incident indicated that the PLA has violated every agreement aimed at maintaining peace and tranquility and it should keep us ready for a long hot summer in the Himalayas. The military should be ready for longer engagement and a limited offensive to set right our defence posture to maintain the Integrity and sovereignty of our country.

( Brigadier Vinod Dutta is former, Secretary,DCMG (Disaster Management). He has almost three decades of experience in disaster management. He is presently a senior advisor & Member of Centre Research and Consultancy Committee at Centre for Disaster Management Studies, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi. He is also Senior Consultant at the National Institute of Disaster Management, New Delhi).

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are of the author's alone

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