The People's Liberation Army (PLA) acknowledged for the first time on Friday that four of its soldiers were killed in last year’s Galwan Valley clash in eastern Ladakh with the Indian Army. According to the PLA Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese military, the soldiers have been recognised by the Central Military Commission of China (CMC) for their sacrifice in the border confrontation with India, which occurred in the Galwan Valley in June 2020. The soldiers were posthumously awarded honorary titles and first-class merit citations by the CMC, while a colonel, who led them and was seriously injured, was conferred with honorary title.
President Xi Jinping awarded Qi Fabao, the regimental commander from the PLA Xinjiang Military Command, the title of “Hero regimental commander for defending the border,” Chen Hongjun with “Hero to defend the border,” and awarded first-class merit to Chen Xiangrong, Xiao Siyuan and Wang Zhuoran.
The border standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted on May 5 2020 following a violent clash in the Pangong Lake area and both sides gradually heightened their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry.
Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in the fierce combat on June 15 2020 in Galwan Valley, an incident that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades. China had then refused to reveal its casualty figure and had instead termed reports of PLA soldiers being killed in the face-off in eastern Ladakh as “fake news”.
The admission of casualties comes at a time when the two armies are in the midst of disengagement at the North and South banks of the Pangong Lake, which has been the epicentre of the standoff for the last nine months. Last year, the Chinese military built several bunkers and other structures in the areas between Finger 4 and 8 and had blocked all Indian patrols beyond Finger 4, triggering a strong reaction from the Indian Army.
Meanwhile, according to officials, three unidentified militants and a policeman were killed in two separate encounters between security forces and terrorists in Budgam and Shopian districts of Jammu and Kashmir, on Friday. Security forces sprung a cordon and search operation in Zanigam village in the Beerwah area of Budgam district following information about the presence of militants there, the officials said.
They said the search operation turned into an encounter after militants opened fire towards security forces' positions.
Two policemen were injured in the gun battle. They were rushed to a hospital for treatment but one of them succumbed, the officials said.
In another encounter at Badigam in Shopian district, three militants were killed by security forces. Officials said identity and group affiliation of the slain ultras is being ascertained.
This development comes at a time when a delegation of envoys including those from several Europe Union countries and a few member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation are on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir to take a first-hand account of the ground situation.