After over nine months of the Galwan Valley clash between the Indian Army and China's People's Liberation Army (PLA), and a week since the two countries agreed to begin the disengagement process, the Chinese side is yet to release the number of casualities in the face-off that took place on June 15, 2020.
Speaking on the issue, in an exclusive interview to CNN-News18, Lt Gen YK Joshi, the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Army’s Northern Command, said while India cannot put a finger on the number of Chinese fatalities, Russian agency TASS reported that 45 PLA soldiers lost their lives in the fight.
"Recently, TASS, the Russian agency had put out a figure of 45 and I think that could be the figure we can look at," he said.
While, the Indian side lost 20 soldiers in the brawl, the Chinese side has avoided giving out the exact number of casualties.
However, Lt Gen Joshi refused to speculate the figure and said, "I don’t want to make an estimate. While the incident happened, we had our OPs sitting and observing the area. We were able to count a large number of casualties, which were being picked up on stretchers and taken back. 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."
After nine months of border standoff in eastern Ladakh, the two armies have reached an agreement on disengagement in the North and South banks of Pangong lake that mandates both sides to cease forward deployment of troops in a "phased, coordinated and verifiable" manner. The disengagement began on Wednesday last.
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.
In the nine rounds of military talks, India was specifically insisting on withdrawal of the Chinese troops from Finger 4 to Finger 8 on the North bank of Pangong Lake. The mountain spurs in the area are referred to as Fingers. Following the completion of the disengagement process, the two sides will hold talks on the de-escalation process.
The Indian Army on Tuesday released short videos and photographs showing thinning down of troops and dismantling of bunkers, camps and other facilities by the Chinese military in the areas around the Pangong lake in eastern Ladakh in line with the agreed disengagement process between the two sides.
The visuals also showed the PLA using a bulldozer to flatten some structures, and vehicles with troops and equipment preparing to retreat to rear bases as part of the infantry disengagement.
In the last few days, both sides removed several bunkers, temporary posts and other structures in the areas while gradually thinning down their troops, they said. The sources said field commanders of both the sides are meeting almost on a daily basis to take forward the disengagement process which was finalised following nine rounds of high-level military talks.