Former Chief of Army Staff VK Singh on Saturday said that most of the Galwan river in the eastern Ladakh valley is in India's control and that people on the ground are capable of resolving the situation, which has broken out after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in clashes with China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) earlier this week.
"Most of the Galwan river is in our control. There should be no doubt in people's mind," he told CNN-News18's Marya Shakil in an exclusive interview. "People dealing on ground are very capable of resolving the situation, I have immense faith in them. We are capable of dealing with all threats we are facing. The LAC (Line of Actual Control) has got the border treaty peace agreement."
The Union Minister of State in the Narendra Modi cabinet said there should be no doubt regarding the PM's statement on the LAC. The PMO earlier described as "mischievous interpretation" the criticism over Modi's remarks at Friday's all-party meeting that no one has entered Indian territory or captured any military post while referring to the Galwan Valley clash.
In a statement on Saturday, the PMO said the focus of Modi's remarks at the meeting was the events of June 15 at Galwan that led to the loss of lives of 20 military personnel. "The prime minister's observations that there was no Chinese presence on our side of the LAC pertained to the situation as a consequence of the bravery of our armed forces," it said.
Singh said only the opposition has raised doubts regarding Modi's statement. "What the PM said is the absolute truth. Everybody who has a doubt has no clue, they don't know about the area," he said.
On the number of Chinese soldiers killed in the clashes, Singh said, "The fatalities on the Chinese side, as told by our people, is 43. We should believe our people on the Chinese casualties numbers."
A senior government official familiar with the debriefing of survivors at hospitals in Leh earlier said that furious hand-to-hand fighting had raged across the Galwan river valley for over eight hours on Monday night as PLA assault teams armed with iron rods as well as batons wrapped in barbed wire hunted down and slaughtered troops of the 16 Bihar Regiment.
Singh reiterated that the Indian Army was not caught unaware and was on high alert. There were no bamboo sticks," he said, in response to reports saying the Chinese attacked the Indian soldiers with bamboo clubs wrapped in nails and wires. "In a face-off, people do carry certain things."
Singh said the Chinese did not have good intentions and that the Indian army had requested them to vacate the area under contention. "It was premeditated action by the Chinese, where they delayed going back as agreed. When our soldiers asked them to go back, a scuffle took place," he added.
Singh said military option is the last resort for a nation. "Border talks with China have been going on for a long time," he said. "It's not a simple subject...many things keep coming up every time. We need to be alert about the kind of deceit we saw this time."