As Indian and Chinese soldiers clashed at Pangong Tso, the second major clash after Galwan Valley, a soldier of Tibetan origin with India’s special forces has reportedly been killed triggering speculations of a wider military showdown between the two nuclear powers.
The death is the first reported from two incidents transpiring within 48 hours on the border, two months after a battle that left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead and an unconfirmed number on the Chinese side.
Neither India, nor China has officially declared any casualties, but Namgyal Dolkar Lhagyari, a member of the Tibetan parliament in exile, told AFP that the Tibetan-origin soldier was “martyred during the clash” on Saturday night.
She did not identify the soldier by name. She said another member of the Special Frontier Force wounded in the operation.
Earlier, India blamed China for changing the status quo along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) while firmly rejecting Beijing’s efforts to blame India for increased tensions.
Indian foreign ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said China “engaged in provocative military maneuvers in the late night of 29 and 30 August in an attempt to change the status quo in the South Bank area of Pangong Lake”.
“(The Indian Army) responded to these provocative actions and took appropriate defensive measures along the LAC in order to safeguard our interests and defend the territorial integrity,” he added.
“Furthermore, on 31 August, even as the ground commanders of the two sides were in discussions to de-escalate the situation, Chinese troops again engaged in provocative action. Due to the timely defensive action, the Indian side was able to prevent these attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo.”
India has taken up the matter of “recent provocative and aggressive actions” with Beijing through diplomatic and military channels, Srivastava said, adding that India has also “urged them to discipline and control their front-line troops from undertaking such provocative actions”.
China’s actions since May along the LAC have been “in clear violation of the bilateral agreements and protocols concluded between the two countries to ensure peace and tranquillity along the border”.
“Such actions are also in complete disregard to the understandings reached between the two foreign ministers as also the special representatives,” he said, referring to telephone conversations in June and July.
India, he said, was “firmly committed to resolve all outstanding issues along the LAC in the Western Sector through peaceful dialogue”. “In this context, we expect the Chinese side to sincerely abide by the understanding reached earlier and earnestly work with India to resolve the situation and restore peace in the border areas.