New Delhi: The Army has conducted a formal court of inquiry into the Galwan clash with Chinese troops in June 15 that left 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of PLA troops dead in the midst of a tense border stand off. The inquiry was conducted by Lt Gen BS Raju, the 15 Corp Commander, and it went into details of the stand off at Galwan, orders that preceded the incident as well as actions taken by troops after they came under attack by the PLA while verifying the disengagement process.

Further process after the CoI report was submitted is awaited, with sources saying the inquiry was necessary due to the loss of lives at Galwan. As the incident took place during peace time with no active hostilities, due process was followed to record the sequence of event and evaluate if standing operating orders need to be modified to prevent a repeat. Sources said that the inquiry looked at the entire chain of command as well as actions taken by troops on the ground as the Galwan stand off evolved after PLA troops moved across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in early May, as was first reported by ET.

While Lt Gen Raju was the presiding officer, two Major General-level officers were nominated members of the CoI. The officers were Maj Gen Paramvir Singh Sehrawat, GOC 71 Sub Area Udhampur, and Maj Gen VM Chandran, GOC Sub Area Leh. As reported, the Galwan clash shattered a decades-long record of relative peace on the India-China border during which both sides patrolled disputed areas, even came to blows at times but did not inflict fatal casualties.

The clash left Col Santosh Babu, the Commanding Officer of 16 Bihar dead, besides 19 other soldiers. Over 70 Indian soldiers were injured in the clash as well that took place along the icy Galwan river when Col Babu had gone with a small detachment of troops to verify if Chinese soldiers had vacated forward position, as had been decided in military commander level talks. While China did not specify how many soldiers it lost, during talks it admitted that the PLA battalion commander too had perished in the hand to hand fight.

Following the fatal clash, several rounds of talks took place and the PLA has since vacated its intrusion across the LAC and has also taken down temporary camps and posts it had constructed. As part of the disengagement process, both sides have decided to temporarily suspend patrolling in the area.

However, as reported, the PLA continues to remain deployed across the LAC in the Finger Area along the Pangong Tso lake and has also posted ahead a small number of troops near the Gogra post. Talks to resolve the situation are continuing but the army is preparing for a long haul into winters as Chinese troops have been refusing to budge from the Finger area.