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    10 Indian soldiers held after clashes, released by Chinese forces

    10 Indian soldiers held after clashes, released by Chinese forces

    10 Indian soldiers held after clashes, released by Chinese forces
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    By Parikshit Luthra   IST (Published)

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    Ten Indian soldiers were taken hostage by the Chinese forces after the clashes on 15th June. Sources say the Indian personnel were released before 4:00 pm on 18th June. According to the Hindu newspaper, three Major rank officers and one Lieutenant Colonel were among those held by Chinese forces.

    Ten Indian soldiers were taken hostage by the Chinese forces after the clashes on 15th June. CNBC-TV18 has learnt that the Indian personnel were released before 4:00 pm on 18th June. According to the Hindu newspaper, three Major rank officers and one Lieutenant Colonel were among those held by Chinese forces. The New York Times reported on the 17th of June that a number of Indian troops had been captured and their fate remained unclear.
    “This is with reference to the article 'In China - India Clash, Two Nationalist Leaders with Little Room to Give' by the New York Times dated 17 June 2020. It is clarified that there is no Indian Troops Missing In Action”, said the Army spokesperson at 4 pm on Thursday. The statement was made after the Indian soldiers were released.
    The Indian Army and the Ministry of External Affairs have not commented on reports of Indian soldiers being detained by Chinese troops. Sources say the Indian soldiers were released after negotiations between Major General rank officers from both sides. There were at least two rounds of negotiations between senior military officials before the soldiers were released. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also had a telephone conversation on 17th May.
    The Army has said that none of the soldiers are critical. “All are stable. 18 soldiers at our hospital in Leh. They will be out on duty in about 15 days. 58 soldiers at other hospitals. They should be back on duty within a week”, said a senior official requesting anonymity.
    Military veterans say the Chinese must have come with a plan to capture a few Indian soldiers. Strategic Affairs Expert Brigadier V Mahalingam said, “The Chinese must have had a plan to capture a few Indian soldiers, especially some officers. This could be their back-up plan or bargaining chip in case a Chinese soldier gets caught”.
    The Chinese Foreign Ministry has denied reports about Indian soldiers being held by Chinese troops. “China has not seized any Indian personnel”, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian.
    Lieutenant General DS Hooda, the former head of Indian Army’s northern command said that the Chinese had no choice but to release the Indian soldiers. “They possibly wanted to extract some concessions around disengagement. They could not have kept them longer as it could have had serious consequences”, he said.
    The recent clash between India and China and the weapons used by the Chinese side follows a script that has never been seen before. For the last 45 years, Indian and Chinese soldiers have followed laid down protocols and exercised restraint during boundary disputes.
    Both Hooda and Mahalingam say that professional armies do not behave the way the Chinese did on the 15th night. “What they did was unacceptable. They would not use batons with nails because a local commander said so. This had to have the sanction of the leadership. There has also been a unilateral changing of the status quo in certain areas that shows that this incident is quite different from the past”, said Hooda.
    India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar has said that the Indian soldiers who were asking the Chinese troops to remove structures they had built on the Indian side had firearms but did not use them because of the 1996 and 2005 agreements. This claim has been disputed by retired military officials.
    “These agreements apply to border management and not while dealing with a tactical military situation. Lastly, when lives of soldiers or security of post/territory threatened, commander on the spot can use all weapons at his disposal including artillery”, said Lieutenant General HS Panag, Former GOC-in-C Northern Command.
    Brigadier Mahalingam also said that Indian troops must not have had the sanction to carry arms, otherwise, they would have definitely used them in the face of such a grave provocation.
    The United States hasn’t confirmed whether Indo-China clashes came up during discussions between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and top Chinese Diplomat Yang Jiechi. A senior US official said that this could be China’s attempt to take advantage of the Coronavirus pandemic.
    "One explanation for China creating multiple fronts like this is an assessment in Beijing that the world is distracted and is focused entirely on survival right, recovering from the corona pandemic, which then possibly is seen as an opportunity to take advantage of the distraction”, said US Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell.
    India’s allies, including countries like the USA, Russia, Germany and France have condoled the death of Indian soldiers in the border clash with China. India’s Air Force Chief is in Ladakh to review operations and fighter aircraft have been moved to forward bases, said a source. India is reviewing its options right now as it negotiates with China diplomatically and militarily, but going forward this crisis may need discussions between the two nations at the highest level.
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