Police of Thana Gabhana stopped a group of 10 children, aged between 7 and 11 years, in Village Amradpur near Aligarh of Uttar Pradesh on 19 June when they saw them jogging towards the India-China border. On being asked, the kids said they wanted to avenge the death of Indian soldiers in Ladakh.
The policemen told the kids affectionately they need not fight the enemy till the time grown-ups are in the job, and sent the kids home.
In the night of 15 June, as soldiers of the Indian Army were returning from a major general-level meeting with China to defuse the tension along the Line of Actual Control (LoAC) in Ladakh, the Chinese attacked them while they were going through a narrow pass at the Galwan Valley. Violating the convention of not arriving for a meeting armed, the Chinese had come equipped with rods and clubs wrapped in barbed wire.
The Indians ― shocked, unarmed and outnumbered ― fought bravely but lost 20 soldiers in the Chinese ambush. While sources said China lost 43 men to death or injury, the PLA conceded the casualty but did not divulge the break-up of the figure into deaths and injuries.
The government of India has now supplied the army personnel deployed along the China frontier with riot gear for protection against such ruffian-like behaviour of the enemy. The PLA did not follow through on a commitment to disengage as per an understanding reached between the two militaries on 6 June.
But cute kids and police-like attire of Indian Army personnel are hardly India’s response to Chinese aggression. Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria said today the “gallant action” of the 20 Indian Army personnel, who were killed in a violent face-off with Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, have shown the forces’ resolve to protect “India’s sovereignty at any cost”.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) chief’s comments came after he made a low-key visit to Ladakh to review the Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) preparedness in the sensitive sector where the force is operating its fighter jets and new attack and heavy-lift helicopters two days after the 20 army men, including a commander, were killed in Galwan Valley.
Bhadauria visited the forward airbases — Leh on 17 June and Srinagar the next day — at a time of increased Chinese military activity across the disputed Line of Actual Control (LoAC) where Indian and Chinese troops have been caught in a tense confrontation for over seven weeks. Efforts to de-escalate have failed.
“Please join me in paying tribute to Colonel Santosh Babu and his brave men who made the sacrifice while defending the LAC in Galwan Valley. The gallant actions in a highly-challenging situation have demonstrated our resolve to protect India’s sovereignty at any cost,” Bhadauria said.
“It should be very clear that we are well prepared and suitably deployed to respond to any contingency. I assure the nation that we are determined to deliver and will never let the sacrifice of the braves of Galwan go in vain,” the IAF chief added. He made the comments during the Combined Graduation Parade (CGP) at the Air Force Academy in Hyderabad.
“The security scenario in our region mandates that our armed forces remain prepared and vigilant at all times. The development at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh is a small snapshot of what we are required to handle at short notice,” he said.
“In spite of unacceptable Chinese action after agreements reached during military talks and resulting loss of lives, all efforts are underway to ensure that the current situation at LAC is resolved peacefully,” Bhadauria said.
International observers and war experts believe India has an edge over China ― contrary to the conventional wisdom ― if the present tensions between the two countries escalates to war.