Winter Olympic: Kashmir Contingent in Beijing, China Bring Galwan Back To News

SRINAGAR: In a historic first, Kashmir top skier, Arif Khan along with his manager, Abbas Wani, is in Beijing to participate in the Winter Olympics starting February 4. Khan got a rare nomination for two Olympic events. While Khan is busy in practice, his manager, a former lawmaker, is quarantined in the neighbourhood of the Turkish team following testing positive for Covid19.

What is interesting, however, is that China brought back the Galwan valley clash in Ladakh and is using it in the Olympics. It gave the honour of being one of the torchbearers for the Olympic flame to a Red Army regiment commander, Qi Fabao.

The information was revealed by The Global Times, a Chinese government news organisation. A tweet said: “Qi Fabao, a PLA regiment commander who sustained head injury while fighting bravely in the #Galwan Valley border skirmish with #India, is a torchbearer during Wed’s #Beijing2022 Winter Olympic Torch Relay.”

The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi paid tributes to the valour of the soldiers, during his visit to Nimu in Ladakh on July 03, 2020. A PIB Photo

The soldier, according to media reports had been formally declared “hero regiment commander for defending the border” by the Chinese government.

“The gesture seems to be a deliberate attempt to cock a snook at India, which had refused to join five Western nations—the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada and Lithuania— to boycott the games, and has sent one participant,” one newspaper analysis said. They have boycotted the game because of China’s repression of Uyghur Muslims. As India stayed away from the Western countries, a Chinese opinion piece used by The Global Times said “India’s support for Beijing Winter Olympic Games shows it is not a natural US ally”.

In a quick reaction, the Government of India has decided not to attend the opening and the closing ceremony of the global event. “We have seen the reports on this issue. It is indeed regrettable that the Chinese side has chosen to politicise an event like the Olympics,” media reports quoted a foreign ministry spokesman today. “I wish to inform that our Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of India in Beijing will not be attending the opening or the closing ceremony of the Beijing ’22 Winter Olympics,” the ministry added.

In immediate follow-up, the Prasar Bharti decided against the telecast of the inaugural and closing events.

Open-source information suggests that as many as 2875 athletes from 91 countries are participating in the Olympics that 109 events in seven different winter sports.

The incident was reported at a time when the rival armies are still in an eyeball to eyeball position on the Sino-Indian borders in Ladakh as the 21-month old standoff has defied an early resolution.

Galwan valley clash was the major highlight of the standoff. While India lost 20 soldiers, Beijing belatedly admitted having lost five to the fight in which no guns were used. Interestingly, an investigation, Galwan Decoded carried out by an Australian newspaper, The Klaxon said that China has lost more soldiers than it claims.

India and China have had 14 rounds at the local military level to solve the issue but the crisis remains unresolved. Both sides have almost 50,000 troops deployed in the region, which is one of the coldest on earth outside Antarctica.

Kashmir alpine skier, Arif Khan would be participating in the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 in February. He is the only skier selected for the top spectacle in winter sports.

What is interesting, however, is that Beijing continues to use Galwan valley for its political ends. Early this month, one of China’s micro-blogging sites asked people to repost a military notice of a Red Army unit following which 10 people would be selected for getting “a stone from the Galwan valley as a present”.

Meanwhile, Abbas Wani, according to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has tested negative within 24 hours.

Wani is a part of the six-member Indian delegation at the Winter Olympics where Jammu and Kashmir skier Arif Khan is the only athlete from the country to have qualified this time. Arif will be competing in Slalom and Giant Slalom events during the Games to be held from February 4 to 20. Other members of the delegation include alpine coach Ludar Chand Thakur, technician Puran Chand and team official Roop Chand Negi.

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