Galwan Brawl: Beijing Had Moved Martial Art Fighters, Chinese Media Claims

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SRINAGAR:  Shortly before the deadliest clash between Indian and Chinese armies in around 50 years, China had reinforced its troops near the Line of Actual Control (LoAC), the de facto border, with mountain climbers and martial arts fighters, Chinese state media reported on Sunday.

As reported by official military newspaper China National Defence News, five new militia divisions including former members of a Mount Everest Olympic torch relay team and fighters from a mixed martial arts club presented themselves for inspection at Lhasa on June 15.

State broadcaster CCTV showed footage of hundreds of new troops lining up in the Tibetan capital.

Tibet commander Wang Haijiang said the Enbo Fight Club recruits would “greatly raise the organisation and mobilisation strength” of troops and their “rapid response and supportability”, China National Defence News reported. He, however, did not explicitly confirm their deployment was linked to ongoing border tensions.

Chinese and Indian troops clashed later that day in the most violent confrontation between the two powers in decades, in the Ladakh region almost 1,300 kilometres away. Neither side used the conventional weaponry as per the agreement reached between the two countries in 1993.

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India confirmed the death of 20 soldiers including a Colonel in brutal hand-to-hand combat that day, while China suffered an unspecified number of casualties. Reports in the media suggested that the Chinese took at least 16 dead bodies. Both sides have blamed each other for the battle, which was fought with rocks and batons without any shots fired.

Chinese state media have in recent weeks highlighted military activity including high-altitude anti-aircraft drills in the Tibet region bordering India. The new troops were recruited with the aim of “strengthening the border and stabilising Tibet”, China National Defence News said.

The global news agency, the AFP reports that India said Chinese troops ambushed Indian soldiers and forced them down a ridge where they had gone to remove a Chinese encroachment.

PM Modi addressing a public rally in Srinagar on Saturday. (Photo: Bilal Bahadur/KL) – File photo 

“China has said it is moving 20 martial art trainers to the Tibetan plateau to train its forces,” BBC reported on its website. “No official reason for the decision has been given, but it comes after at least 20 Indian troops were killed in clashes with Chinese border forces.”

News gatherer, ANI has reported that India has deployed its advanced quick-reaction surface-to-air missile defence systems in the eastern part of Ladakh.

“As part of the ongoing build-up in the sector, the air defence systems of both Indian Army and the Indian Air Force have been deployed in the sector to prevent any misadventure by the Chinese Air Force fighter jets or the People’s Liberation Army choppers there,” the agency quoted unnamed government sources say.

In his monthly radio programme, Mann KI Baat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said: “In Ladakh, a befitting reply has been given to those coveting our territory.”

India, he said, is peace-loving. “But if anyone casts an eye on our territory and sovereignty, we are more than capable of giving a befitting reply,” Modi said. He did not mention China but dropped clear hints. Noting that the sentiments expressed by the family members of those slain in the violent phase lent courage to the entire country, Prime Minister referred to jawan Kundan Kumar’s father who has, despite losing a son, expressed a desire to see two of his grandsons serve the Indian Army. In his broadcast, the Prime Minister said the entire country paid rich tributes to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country.

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