Twenty Indian soldiers including Army Colonel B. Santosh Babu, commanding officer at the LAC with China in Ladakh's Galwan valley were martyred in a violent face-off with People's Liberation Army on Monday night. This is a dramatic departure from the four-decades-old status quo of troops from the two countries facing off without any fatalities.
"Indian & Chinese troops have disengaged at Galwan area where they had earlier clashed on the night of 15/16 June. 17 Indian troops who were critically injured in the line of duty at stand-off location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain have succumbed to their injuries, taking the total that were killed in action to 20," the Indian Army said in a statement as the tension between the India-China ran high.
"Indian Army is firmly committed to protecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation," the statement read.
The clash — during which neither side fired any shots, according to Indian officials — is the first deadly confrontation between the two Asian giants since 1975.
Tall claims and hollow threats have been issued from Chinese side all throughout Tuesday. Editor-in-Chief of Global Times Hu Xijin even dared to advise India against being "arrogant".
The tension was building up at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) for last few weeks. The Chinese side was taking invalid objection as India attempted to improve border infrastructure within its own borders. There were physical clashes between the two armies but Monday's events were unprecedented in recent past as casualties did not occur on India-China border for last 45 years.
India Did NOT Cross LAC, China disturbed the status quo: MEA
On Tuesday, Ministry of External Affairs put the onus squarely on China and stressed that Indian troops had not crossed the Line of Actual Control.
"On late-evening & night of June 15,a violent face-off happened as a result of an attempt by Chinese side to unilaterally change status quo there. Both sides suffered casualties that could have been avoided had agreement at higher level been scrupulously followed by Chinese side," said MEA.
The ministry made it clear that though India wanted peace at its borders, it was committed to safeguarding India's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Top levels of governments, Indian Army go in a huddle
Prior to the statement from the MEA, the day saw frantic activity as top brass of Indian Government and Indian Army went into a huddle to decide future course of action. Prime Minister Narendra Modi held discussions with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Foreign Minister S Jaishankar.
Army Chief General MM Naravne cancelled his Pathankot tour and kept an eye on the situation in Ladakh. He met Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and briefed him. The meeting took place at Rajnath Singh's residence and Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat was present as well.
(Inputs from India TV's Manish Prasad, PTI, ANI and agencies)