In a first statement from the government of India, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday expressed his condolences for the fallen soldiers of the Indian Army at Galwan valley.

In a series of tweets, Singh said that the nation will never forget the bravery and sacrifice of the 20 soldiers who were martyred at the Indo-China border on Monday evening.

“The loss of soldiers in Galwan is deeply disturbing and painful. Our soldiers displayed exemplary courage and valour in the line of duty and sacrificed their lives in the highest traditions of the Indian Army”, Singh tweeted.

However, the defence minister’s tweet does not mention China and its army who were responsible for the deaths of the Indian soldiers.

The stand-off at Line of Actual Control (LAC) started a month ago when the Chinese troops claimed Indian territory at Galwan valley to be theirs. De-escalation talks have been going on ground in eastern Ladakh since the past few weeks through military and diplomatic channels.

Senior Commanders had a productive meeting on June 6 and agreed on a process for such de-escalation. Subsequently, ground commanders had a series of meetings to implement the consensus reached at the higher level.

However, the stand-off took a violent turn on Monday evening. The violent face-off between Indian and Chinese forces took place on Monday evening where an Indian Army officer and two soldiers were killed during de-escalation process in Galwan Valley, one of the flashpoint leading to standoff in eastern Ladakh region.

Later, the Indian Army on Tuesday night said, “17 Indian troops who were critically injured in the line of duty at standoff location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain, they have succumbed to their injuries, taking the total that were killed in action to 20.”

According to an AFP report, the soldiers were not shot but were killed in hand-to-hand combat on Indian territory. The soldiers threw punches and stones at each other and the Chinese troops allegedly used rods and nail-studded clubs during the fight that lasted for hours until midnight on Monday.

China’s defence ministry confirmed that the incident had resulted in casualties but did not give details. China has justified the censorship about the casualties of its troops arguing that it was a goodwill gesture from Beijing.