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Fact Check: Why Indian soldiers did not open fire during June 15 clash at Galwan valley?

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Summary

The reason behind Indian soldiers not using any firearm during the Galwan valley faceoff is a number of agreements signed between both the countries to keep the tension at the border under check.

In a brutal clash between the Indian Army and China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) on June 15  at the Galwan Valley near the LAC in Ladakh, 20 Indian soldiers were killed however the numbers of casualties reported by the Chinese Army are still unclear. 

Amid this, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi put out a video message on Twitter asking why Indian soldiers sent unarmed to a dangerous situation, and who was responsible for this decision. 

You can watch his video here:

A similar question was raised by the official Twitter page of INC. "The question BJP cannot run away from: Why were our brave soldiers unarmed and who is responsible for their martyrdom?" stated the tweet. 

A similar narrative also surfaced on social media platforms. 

A Twitter user while sharing a video by PM Modi wrote, "#India; Indians & #World wants the truth . How & Why over 20 Indian Soldiers were beaten to Death ? Who killed them? ; Where they were killed ? Why they were unarmed ? You are Master of Lies & Cover ups BUT this ; Not even an inch of land is LOST ;this is a satellites world !"

A Facebook user while sharing the unfortunate news of 20 Indian soldiers being killed unarmed wrote, "This is sad... As news is trickling... Out of around 50 plus soldiers, 20 Indian soldiers including Commanding Officers Killed and rest were taken prisoners... How? They were asked to go unarmed to Chinese Post I to negotiate their withdrawal as agreed... Chinese outnumbered them and attacked. In retaliation, our second troop sprung to action and killed numerous Chinese soldiers."

Were Indian soldiers at Galwan valley unarmed?

While responding to Rahul Gandhi, Indian External Affairs Minister, Jaishankar Prasad took to Twitter and clarified that all troops on border duty always carry arms and soldiers at Galwan on 15 June also did so. He wrote, "Let us get the facts straight. All troops on border duty always carry arms, especially when leaving post. Those at Galwan on 15 June did so. Long-standing practice (as per 1996 & 2005 agreements) not to use firearms during faceoffs."

Why Indian soldiers did not use firearms during June 15 face-off?

The reason behind Indian soldiers not using any firearm during the worst faceoff between India and China in the last 5 decades is a number of agreements signed between both the countries to keep the tension at the border under check. As Jaishankar stated, both the nations have signed border agreements in 1993, 1996, and 2005, which defines the activities which are allowed and not allowed along the Line of Actual Control between India and China.

The first meaningful agreement on border disputes and maintenance of peace until the final resolution was signed between India and China in 1993. It says that both the sides entered into the agreement based on five principles, mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit and peaceful coexistence, and with a view to maintaining peace and tranquillity in areas along the line of actual control in the India-China border areas. The main focus of this agreement was to maintain peace along the LAC and reduce aggression on both sides. The agreement can be accessed here

The agreement was signed by a Congress government under PV Narasimha Rao

Both countries went for another agreement in 1996. This was focused on more detailed protocols to achieve the goals set in the first agreement. This agreement made it binding on soldiers to "exercise self-restraint" and opt for "immediate consultation" if a face-off situation arises.  Section (1)  of Article VI of this agreement explains why Indian soldiers did not open fire on June 15.  It says, "Neither side shall open fire or hunt with guns or explosives within two kilometers from the line of actual control." Due to this provision, no side even brandishes firearms. This agreement was signed by the HD Deve Gowda government that was in power with the outside support of the Congress party.  The agreement can be accessed here

This agreement was aimed at avoiding a full-scale war erupting between India and China by reducing the use of weaponry aggression at the border as Article III of the agreement talks about reducing the number of weaponry at LAC.  

In 2005, when Manmohan Singh led UPA-I govt was in power, India and China again signed an agreement reiterating the commitment of both the nations to abide by and implement the 1993 and 1996 agreements. The agreement can be accessed here

Clearly, Rahul Gandhi’s Congress party was in power or was supporting the government in power when these agreements on the settlement of the India-China were signed by both the countries in 1993, 1996, and 2005. 

In 2008 during UPA1, the Congress party and the Communist Party of China (CPC) had signed a deal in Beijing for exchanging high-level information and co-operation between them. The memorandum of understanding (MoU) also provided the two parties with the “opportunity to consult each other on important bilateral, regional and international developments”.

The MoU was signed by the then Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi and on the Chinese side, it was signed Xi Jinping himself, then Chinese vice-president and standing committee member of the CPC’s politburo. 

During the clashes on June 15, the Chinese used iron rods, stones, and sticks with barbed wires and nails on them to attack a group of Indian soldiers led by 16 Bihar Commanding Officer (CO) Colonel Santosh Babu. Even after this,  Indian soldiers respected and followed the agreements signed between the two sides.

In Conclusion, the reason behind Indian soldiers not using any firearm during the Galwan valley faceoff is a number of agreements signed between both the countries to keep the tension at the border under check.

Note: You can reach out to us at support[at]facthunt.co.in if you find any issue with our articles.


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