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India awards gallantry medals in previously unreported recent Tibet-border clashes

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(TibetanReview.net, Jan18’24) – Amid claims and suggestions that an uneasy calm has continued to prevail on India’s border with Chinese occupied Tibet, it has emerged that more clashes between Indian and Chinese troops have occurred than had been reported in the recent past and that soldiers had been awarded medals last week for their displays of exceptional gallantry.

Recent citations for gallantry awards at the Indian Army’s Western Command investiture ceremony shed light on at least two previously undisclosed hand-to-hand clashes between Indian and Chinese troops along the LAC (line of actual control), reported the timesofindia.com and scmp.com Jan 17.

At the ceremony held last week, the Indian Army’s firm response to China’s People’s Liberation Army I(PLA) soldiers’ aggression was commended, said the timesofindia.com report.

The incidents mentioned in the citations were stated to have occurred between Sep 2021 and Nov 2022.

The citations were stated to provide brief accounts of how Indian troops responded firmly to the aggressive behaviour exhibited by soldiers from the PLA along the LAC.

The Indian Army’s Western Command, headquartered in Chandimandir, had initially uploaded a video of the ceremony on its YouTube channel, featuring commentary on the gallantry awards. However, the video was deactivated on Jan 15, the report said.

The incidents involved hand-to-hand combat and came as New Delhi and Beijing held a series of diplomatic and military talks to resolve their worst military conflict in decades. These skirmishes in India’s Ladakh region, the last of which is now known to have happened in Nov 2022, show that the tensions along the unmarked border continued much longer than previously reported, noted the scmp.com report.

During physical jostling, an Indian soldier wounded at least four Chinese troops and snatched their rifles, “forcing them to go back”, the citation in the first incident was quoted as saying.

In the second incident, which occurred in Nov 2022, Indian troops pushed back “a group of 40 to 50 soldiers of (PLA)” who were trying to enter Indian territory. A unit of Indian soldiers attacked and injured them, “thus foiling the enemy’s plan to capture the post”, the report quoted the citation as saying.

The citations were also cited as saying army units of the two countries were involved in a two-day stand-off in an unspecified area in 2022.

Since the clashes in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley in Jun 2020, the Indian Army has maintained a high level of combat readiness along the 3,488 km-long LAC.

Over the past three and a half years, there have been multiple skirmishes between Indian and Chinese troops following the border dispute in eastern Ladakh that began in May 2020 in the LAC’s western sector. The Chinese troops also attempted a transgression in the Tawang sector of the LAC in Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern sector, the report noted.

This occurred on Dec 9, 2022, when PLA troops made an unsuccessful attempt to transgress the LAC in the Yangtse area of Tawang Sector, resulting in a unilateral change in the status quo. India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh addressed Parliament four days later and confirmed that Indian troops firmly contested the Chinese attempt. Several Indian Army personnel involved in countering the transgression were honoured with gallantry awards during the investiture ceremony, the report said.

“The ensuing face-off led to a physical scuffle in which the Indian Army bravely prevented the PLA from transgressing into our territory and compelled them to return to their posts,” Singh said.

Even earlier reports, dating from Aug 2020, had hinted that the Galwan clash was not an isolated incident, with several preceding skirmishes, including all-night clashes causing substantial injuries on both sides. The recently disclosed clashes offer a deeper understanding of the escalating tension between these two nuclear-armed powers, locked in a standoff since May 2020, said a financialexpress.com report Jan 16.

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