“In the nine-month-long stand-off with China in Eastern Ladakh, there have been many flare-ups but India and China came close to war on August 31, last year. This is right after India had occupied the strategic Kailash Ranges in South Bank on August 29 and 30, respectively. Rattled by India's sudden move, which put the Chinese at a massive tactical disadvantage, the PLA launched a counter operation,” Lt Gen YK Joshi, India's Northern Army Commander, told CNN-News18.
On August 31, when the Chinese PLA wanted to right up to the Kailash Ranges, the situation was got extremely tense, Joshi said.
“Galwan had happened and the red line had been drawn. We were given an absolutely free hand to conduct operations the way we want. At that moment when you see the adversary trying to come up, my tank man, the gunner, the rocket launcher are all seeing this , the easiest thing for him to do is what he is trained to do. Pull the trigger. That doesn’t need any courage. But the most difficult thing that needs courage is not to open fire, not to press the trigger. So, we have to be very clear that was a time when war was actually averted. We were on the edge, we were absolutely on the brink,” he added.
During the interview, the Northern Army Commander gave an estimate on the casualties on the Chinese side, which he said was close to 45. This is the first time that the Army has thrown light on the number of Chinese fatalities.
Here is the full link to the interview:
“I don’t want make an estimate. While the incident happened, we had our Observation Posts sitting, observing the area. We were able to pick up a large number of casualties in stretchers. More than 60, actually, but whether they were fatal or non-fatal, we can't say with authority. So, I will not give a figure. But you are aware that recently TASS, the Russian agency had put out a figure of 45 and I think that could be the figure we can look at. It could be more,” he said.
Joshi, a Kargil hero, has spent much of his professional life in the mountains of Ladakh and is a fluent Mandarin speaker. As per Joshi, China has achieved nothing with the standoff, “except a bad name”.
“I am reminded of a Mandarin proverb, which the Chinese have been saying to me for long. A relative who is far away cannot be equated to a neighbour who is very close to you. It means that it is better to have good relations with your neighbour than depend on your relative who is far away. So I want to throw the proverb back at the Chinese that we can be good neighbours but the trust level has to be there on both sides. So, the Chinese have to do their part to develop this trust now,” he said.