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It is inexplicable why China would, as a policy decision, choose to engage in a bloody skirmish in the Galwan Valley that cost so many lives. A probable scenario is that its troops were ordered to adopt certain measures if a situation took a particular direction. This would explain the ready availability of iron rods and barbed wire-wrapped clubs to counter the Indian troops, which in normal circumstances would be hidden away in the context of the ‘no weapons’ agreement. It is possible that, instead of being frightened by the sudden ‘arming’ of the Chinese and retreating as expected, the Indian Colonel and his men stood their ground, resulting in the confrontation.

It is certain that as many as twenty troopers would not have lost their lives without inflicting casualties on the enemy. While, as a functioning democracy, India has admitted the loss of its soldiers, the Chinese have been mum on the issue, claiming that making the facts public could affect public morale in a way that could impact on ‘normalisation’ efforts. It also makes the incident seem one-sided and reflects a major domination of the Chinese forces over the Indians. And, of course, political elements that are inimical to India, as also those that oppose the present government, have latched on to this perception and begun a media blitz designed to embarrass Prime Minister Modi and, generally, demoralise the Indian people.

While lower level public officials in China are the ones who have commented on the issue, it is being demanded that the Indian Prime Minister ‘come clean’ on the subject and, immediately, at that! They forget that unless he is briefed on all the facts, and various are scenarios presented before him on what is basically a developing situation, it would be extremely foolish to make a statement or arrive at a policy decision. He is not the first responder on such an occasion, but the one who takes the final decision after consulting his cabinet and others. It is as part of this process that an all party meeting has been called by him on 19 June.

The deaths of the twenty soldiers will remain a debt on every Indian till such time it is paid off. The opportunity will be eagerly awaited. In the meanwhile, there are many other ways to hurt the Chinese in areas where hostilities are already underway. These include hitting the Pakistanis even harder, and making life really difficult for the Nepalese Government. Also, very importantly, Indians in their everyday lives should begin speaking of Tibet, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Xingjian as independent entities, which will smoothly percolate into official policy regarding China. The pledge to buy less of Chinese goods has already been taken and, soon, will begin to have the necessary impact.