Outrage grows over China's ‘barbarism’ against Indian soldiers

A tweet on nail-studded rods used by Chinese soldiers in the attack went viral

china club rep Representational image of a club | Twitter handle of Christine Fair

The deaths of at least 20 Indian soldiers in a faceoff with Chinese forces at Galwan in Ladakh earlier this week is continuing to dominate headlines. Protocols agreed to by both sides had prohibited the use of firearms on the Line of Actual Control in order to reduce risk of escalation. However, scuffles and use of clubs have occurred in the past. But this time, the seemingly unprecedented brutality of the Chinese soldiers against Indian soldiers is triggering anger.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi uploaded a video on Twitter on Thursday, asking who was responsible for deploying Indian soldiers without weapons "towards danger?"

On Thursday, journalist and former Indian Army officer Ajai Shukla tweeted an image of "nail studded" rods used by Chinese soldiers to attack and kill the Indian soldiers. Shukla tweeted, "The nail-studded rods—captured by Indian soldiers from the Galwan Valley encounter site—with which Chinese soldiers attacked an Indian Army patrol and killed 20 Indian soldiers. Such barbarism must be condemned. This is thuggery, not soldiering." Shukla's tweet went viral, with social media users criticising China.

Scholar Christine Fair, an expert on South Asian geopolitics, posted a number of comments about China's use of clubs against the Indian soldiers. Fair accused China's communist leaders of counting "crimes against humanity as accomplishments". Fair tweeted, "So I'd like someone to explain to me how the Chinese use of this barbaric weapon to beat Indian soldiers to death is not YET another crime? But when it comes to the CHICOMS, they count crimes against humanity as accomplishments."

On May 5, around 250 Indian and Chinese army personnel clashed with iron rods and sticks and even resorted to stone-pelting in the Pangong Tso lake area of Ladakh, in which soldiers on both sides sustained injuries. In a separate incident, nearly 150 Indian and Chinese military personnel were engaged in a face-off near Naku La Pass in the Sikkim sector on May 9. At least 10 soldiers from both sides sustained injuries.

Retired Lt. General H.S. Panag told Hindustan Times on Wednesday that the incident at Galwan “is the only time in the history of Indian Army that a commanding officer has been clubbed to death”. Some media reports have claimed that bodies of some of the Indian soldiers had been mutilated.

The clash at Galwan was triggered after India asked Chinese soldiers to dismantle a surveillance post they built on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control. PTI reported a small group of Chinese personnel present at the camp reacted angrily to the objections of the Indian Army’s patrolling team but soon retreated to the Chinese side of the LAC. They returned shortly after with more troops, wearing protective gear and armed with stones, nail-studded sticks, iron rods and clubs and confronted the Indian personnel.

At that point, the Indian soldiers had also been joined by additional troops and were attempting to remove the temporary structure, those familiar with the matter said. The clash that followed went on for several hours on the vertiginous heights of eastern Ladakh with Chinese soldiers brutally attacking the Indians, they said.