Indian, Chinese Journalists Clash on Twitter Over 'Rumour' of PLA Troops Dying Due to 'Extreme Cold'
The border standoff between India and China in the eastern Ladakh region erupted in 2020. It remains unresolved despite 14 rounds of military commander-level talks and several official meetings, including between the foreign ministers of both countries. Both sides blame each other for triggering the standoff.
Indian and Chinese journalists have traded barbs on the micro-blogging site Twitter after an Indian scribe alleged that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) suffered "cold weather fatalities" in the eastern Ladakh region on 2-3 January.
Indian journalist Shiv Aroor was triggered by allegations that COVID has spread on a "large-scale" in the Indian military, in the wake of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's testing positive for the virus earlier this week.
The claim by Aroor, made amid the ongoing military standoff between the two Asian giants, has been repudiated by Hu Xijin, the former editor of China's state-backed Global Times.
Hu took to Twitter to reject the claim about any PLA fatalities. The Chinese journalist based his rebuttal on information obtained from "authoritative sources".
So far, there has been no official word from Beijing on Aroor's allegation.
The Indian journalist, however, refused to buy into Hu's rebuttal, as he reiterated his original claim of casualties among the PLA. Aroor also used the opportunity to question the deaths suffered by the PLA during the clashes in the Galwan Valley in June 2020.
21 September 2021, 19:15 GMT
Twenty Indian and five PLA troops were left dead as a result of the Galwan Valley clashes, as per the official versions.
Another Indian journalist, Aditya Raj Kaul, also joined Aroor in the social media argument, accusing the PLA of "hiding" the casualties suffered by the Chinese due to cold weather conditions this month. The Chinese scribe blasted the second Indian journalist as well.
In response, Kaul shifted the focus to the Galwan Valley incident of 2020, as he called upon Hu to share the names of the "44" PLA troopers who died during those clashes. "Don't demean their sacrifice", Kaul also commented, further riling up Hu.
The Galwan Valley Incident
According to reports in the Indian media, Indian and PLA troops clashed in the Galwan Valley
in eastern Ladakh on the evening of 15 June 2020, after Beijing refused to dismantle a camp set up on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Days before the clashes on 6 June, the military leaderships of both countries had agreed to de-escalate tensions in the Galwan Valley region, which is spread across both India and China-controlled territories.
As reported by the Hindustan Times
, an Indian patrolling party led by Colonel Santosh Babu (who subsequently died during the clashes) made its way to the Chinese camp on the fateful day and asked the PLA to dismantle it, in line with the agreement reached on 6 June. It was then that troops from both sides traded blows. Soldiers from both sides reportedly threw stones at each other, with India also accusing the PLA of using iron rods to attack them.
Several Indian and Chinese soldiers also reportedly fell into a river from a ridge where they were clashing, as per reports.
The physical fights between the two sides allegedly lasted for nearly seven hours.
No firearms were used during the clashes, in line with the border management protocols agreed upon by the two militaries.
2 December 2021, 17:52 GMT
In a telephone conversation between Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on 17 June, the top Indian diplomat asked Beijing to "reassess its actions" and "take corrective steps".
"… the Chinese side took premeditated and planned action that was directly responsible for the resulting violence and casualties. It reflected an intent to change the facts on the ground in violation of all our agreements to not change the status quo", Jaishankar told Wang in the call, as per a release by the Indian Foreign Ministry.
On 19 June, at a meeting of the political parties
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the country's soldiers had been able to foil China's attempts to transgress into Indian territory.