India-China Standoff: What happened in Galwan Valley

On Monday night, 15th June 2020, A violent clash happened between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Glawan valley, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir. The incident led to the death of 20 Indian Army Personnel including the CO of 16 Bihar Regiment Colonel Santosh Babu. Chinese are expected to have suffered 45 casualties however Chinese have made it clear that they won’t be releasing their numbers. With a lot of confusion going around about the incident, we at have come up with a detailed breakdown of what happened that night resulting in such high casualties on both sides.

galwan Vally
Galwan Ridge where the fight took place

The Buildup

  • Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in fistfights since May 5, 2020, following a clash at Pangong lake.
  • There has been aggressive posturing by Chinese troops in areas of Pangong, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldi in eastern Ladakh along LAC.
  • Both countries moved soldiers & equipment as LAC situation continued to be volatile.
  • China has been opposed to Indian construction of airstrips and roads in the area, including one Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in Galwan Valley.
  • After weeks of face-off resulting in injuries, friction eased following talks between Indian and Chinese military commanders in Galwan Valley area and Hot Springs recently.
India China standoff doklam
Not the first time: Indian and Chinese soldiers fighting during Doklma Standoff in 2017

What led to the Clash

  • Lieutenant General-level talks were held on June 6th and it was mutually decided that both the armies will remove their temporary camps and move back to their permanent positions following which, disengagement had begun. 
  • Both Armies removed their camps but mid-week, a camp previously removed by the Chinese was set up again on the Indian side. Indian Soldiers dismantled the newly set up Chinese camp, following which a fight broke out between Indian and Chinese troops which left many soldiers injured.
  • The Chinese soldiers withdrew and came back in much much larger numbers into Indian side on Sunday, June 14. A Fight broke out between Indian and Chinese soldiers. Chinese set up a camp.
  • Minor fights kept happening on Sunday and until Monday afternoon (June 15)
  • A High-level talk about the de-escalation process was supposed to happen on Tuesday (16 June) between Major Generals of both the Armies.
Galwan Vally
Galwan Valley where the clash took place

The Violent Clash

  • A clash broke out between Indian and Chinese soldiers on Monday evening (15 June) on a ridgeline with a sheer drop towards fast-flowing Galwan river. The clash escalated rapidly and a few soldiers slipped and fell down the ridge.
  • The Chinese soldiers refused to move back and started escalating the situation by throwing rocks at Indian soldiers who were helping the injured soldiers.
  • An unarmed Indian Army patrol led by Colonel Santosh Babu (Commanding Officer) of 16 Bihar Regiment went to the camp to tell Chinese to follow the disengagement plan. The CO and his men came under attack shortly after arriving at the Chinese camp. The Chinese started to throw rocks with broken glass glued and started hitting Indian delegation with a wooden club with nails and barbed wires wrapped around them. 
Chinese Club used in clash
The Chinese Soldiers had wrapped Barbed Wire and attached nails to clubs
  • Indian CO was grievously hurt. A few Indian soldiers carried the CO and an injured havaldar(Sergent) back, leaving behind some injured soldiers, who were immediately taken captive by the Chinese. Both sides started fighting again but Chinese quickly called in reinforcements from nearby camps who surrounded the Indian soldiers trapping them.
  • Indian CO succumbs to injuries just after sunset. 
  • Indian soldiers had called in reinforcements and a team lead by an Indian Major arrived 40 minutes later and raided the Chinese camp. The Reinforcement was armed with their own melee weapons. 
  • The Indian Reinformcent assaulted the Chinese post with brutal strength and seriously injured nearly 55-56 Chinese solider. Some Chinese soldiers were killed during this assault.
  • More Chinese troops arrived from nearby camps and surround the first camp where intense hand to hand fighting was still going on. This lead to Indian to Indians calling in more soldiers. 
Colonel Santosh babu
Colonel Santosh Babu (CO) of 16 Bihar Regiment who just went to talk with the Chinese
  • As more and more soldiers arrived on site, the fight moved up to the ridge over fast-flowing Galwan River. All this was happening at night near a narrow ridge and many of the soldiers were pushed down the cliff into the narrow Galwan river.
  • Several soldiers from both sides fall into the river. Most Chinese and Indian casualties are believed to have happened during this phase. 
  • The clash went on for more than four hours late into the night as more and more soldiers arrived. A lot of soldiers suffered head injuries during this hand to hand combat. Stones, Metal rods, Wooden clubs with barbed wire were extensively used.
  • Finally, a Chinese Brigadier arrives and orders troops to stop fighting and move back. Brigadier also orders soldiers to pick up casualties and treat the wounded.
  • The fighting stops after midnight. Both armies start retrieving bodies downstream in the darkness. Indian Soldiers start recovering bodies of from the river. Injured soldiers are taken back.
  • The Sub Zero Temperature and long trek to camp has made matters worse for injured soldiers many of whom are suffering from Hypothermia. By morning several of the Indian men have succumbed to their injuries.


  • The Disengagement has happened, but there is still Chinese presence in Galwan Valley. Brigadier & Colonel level talks have happened on Tuesday. The situation remains volatile. 
  • Indian Leadership is prioritising the calming of troops who are very mad after their CO was killed on a mission to simply talk. 
  • The Indian Army has now taken charge of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) posts.
  • More clashes like this will happen if the Chinese continue being aggressive and don’t pull back.

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