Chinese bullets kill Tibetan soldier, injure one, in border clash

View of Panggong Lake in Ladakh, north India, on 9 July 2014.

View of Panggong Lake in Ladakh, north India, on 9 July 2014. File photo/Tibet Sun/Lobsang Wangyal

Tibet Sun Online News

ON THE WEB, 1 September 2020

A Tibetan soldier of Company Leader rank has been reportedly killed, and his junior injured, by Chinese bullets at India’s northern border in Ladakh region while they were on patrol duty, according to sources.

Company Leader Nyima Tenzin, 51, was reportedly killed by a gunshot in the neck. He is said to be from the Tibetan settlement in Choglamsar near Ladakh’s capital Leh, and had 33 years of service. The injured man is Tenzin Loden, 24, also from Choglamsar settlement. The incident took place on Saturday night.

Both men were from the 7th battalion of the Special Frontier Force (SFF), also known as Establishment 22, which is a unit made up of Tibetans under the Indian army. Within the Indian army the Tibetan unit is known as the “Vikas battalion”.

The incessant move by Chinese soldiers to occupy border areas perceived by India as its own territory has left the two sides in ongoing confrontation. The situation intensified in June after Chinese soldiers killed 20 Indian solders in a hand-to-hand battle on the disputed border.

Months of military and diplomatic dialogue trying to persuade Beijing to withdraw its troops from the border incursion have failed to produce any results.

On Sunday hundreds of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers crossed into the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) south of Panggong lake, occupied a hill called Helmet Top and began building fortifications.

Tibetan soldiers stationed at the nearby Thakung post intervened to prevent the PLA soldiers from building. Physical clashes followed that left dozens of Chinese soldiers injured. There were no reports of firing at the site.

PLA soldiers are now reportedly occupying Helmet Top, as well as nearby Black Top, both of which are on the Indian side of the LAC. These hilltop spots are said to be vantage points for Chinese soldiers to observe and track Indian movements across Panggong lake and as far as India’s tactically vital Chushul garrison.

Indian authorities have been keeping silent about a counter-operation by the SFF soldiers launched on Sunday night. An SFF detachment is reported to have occupied key heights that China claims as their own.

On Monday, the Indian army in a press release said, “On the night of 29/30 August, PLA troops violated the consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements… and carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo.

“Indian troops pre-empted this PLA activity on the southern bank of Pangong Tso Lake, undertook measures to strengthen our positions and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on ground.”

A “flag meeting” — a meeting of commanders of both sides — is said to be in progress at a nearby Chushul post on the Indian side of the border to resolve the issues.

China on Monday accused the Indian Army of crossing the Line of Actual Control (LAC), blatantly provoking China by seriously infringing on China’s territorial sovereignty.

The Global Times, China’s official newspaper, in a provocative editorial wrote that if India would like a military showdown, the PLA is bound to make the Indian army suffer much more severe losses than it did in 1962.

Updated 1 September 2020 5:35 pm IST with details for Nyima Tenzin and Tenzin Loden.
Updated 1 September 2020 5:20 pm IST to change name Tenzin Lobsang to Tenzin Loden.

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