NEW DELHI—On the occasion of its 72nd Republic Day on Jan. 26, India honored its soldiers martyred in a bloody conflict with the People’s Liberation Army in Galwan valley on June 15, 2020, and for the first time ever gave a detailed description of what transpired between the two armies in the trans-Himalayan heights of Ladakh.
In the clash at Galwan that India calls Operation Snow Leopard, which occurred due to an Indian bridge project on the Galwan River, 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers lost their lives.
The commanding officer of the 16 Bihar Infantry Battalion, Col. Santosh Babu, who was stationed along with his soldiers in Galwan, was posthumously awarded India’s second-highest gallantry award, the Mahavir Chakra, by President Ram Nath Kovind during the Republic Day celebrations on Jan. 26.
“Col Santosh Babu was deployed in Galwan Valley (eastern Ladakh) during Operation SNOW LEOPARD, and was tasked to establish an Observation Post in the face of the enemy,” read the life sketch released by India’s Ministry of Defense (pdf).
“Undaunted by the violent and aggressive action by an overwhelming strength of enemy soldiers, he in the true spirit of service before self, continued to resist the enemy’s attempt to push back the Indian troops. Despite being grievously injured, he leads from the front, in hand to hand combat till his last breath.”
The citation awarded to him and available in the Indian media said Babu and his soldiers were involved in hand-to-hand combat with the PLA soldiers. Along with Babu, five others from the Galwan conflict were given wartime awards posthumously.
Meanwhile, Chinese state-run media outlet Global Times slammed India for awarding what it called “perished soldiers” during the time of military talks between the two countries. Military commanders on both sides engaged in the ninth round of corps commander-level talks on Jan. 24. The talks ended the next day, and the Chinese media blamed Indian media for reporting about the awards after the military talks ended.
“Many Chinese experts pointed out on Monday that despite no significant breakthroughs, there was some positivity shown in the ninth-round meeting. Analysts said that as China continues to send signs of goodwill to help cool things down, India’s ceaseless provocative moves would leave an impression to the world and also the Chinese people that they have no intention of resolving the border dispute and maintaining peace and stability along the border,” a Global Times article stated.
However, reports about the gallantry awards to be given to the Galwan heroes started appearing in the Indian media as early as Jan. 11, when leading Indian daily Hindustan Times quoted anonymous sources on the matter.
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Ahead of its Republic Day, India also launched FAU-G (Fearless and United Guards), a mobile action game whose first storyline is based on the Galwan Valley incident. Launched on Jan. 26 by Akshay Kumar, a Bollywood superhero, the mobile game has already crossed more than 1 million downloads on the Google app store and had more than 282,000 reviews on the first day of the launch.
It was launched as a rival to China’s PUBG Mobile, which was banned in India after the Galwan incident, reported Indian media. The app contributes 20 percent of its revenue to the welfare of the Indian army through a charity.
Madhav Nalapat, a New Delhi-based strategic analyst, earlier had told The Epoch Times in an interview that online games are a part of the “data war” that feeds the metadata of the artificial intelligence operations of China.
“Artificial intelligence is a machine fed by metadata. So India has been a very rich treasure trove of metadata for the Chinese, and the United States as well,” Nalapat said.
“For example, about 80 percent of the gaming industry, the online gaming industry in the United States, is actually controlled by Chinese entities. And when Americans click onto this game, artificial intelligence can give you a fairly good idea of what makes them upset, what makes them sad, what makes them happy. And the same thing goes on in India.”