India and China were fighting at 14,000 ft in barren terrain with rocks, sticks, nails — Here’s why there was no gun firing
- Both India and China have deployed several battalions and weapons near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) since tension started building 42 days ago.
- However, when the clash happened on June 15 neither of the two nations used gun firing or blast operations.
- Instead, soldiers from both the sides reportedly used sticks, fists, rocks and wooden clubs — some which were studded with nails or wrapped in barbed wire to fight each other.
- And, most of the soldiers succumbed to their injuries they got from stone pelting.
The deadliest clash between the two countries since 1975 claimed the life of at least 20 Indian soldiers — casualties on the Chinese side still unknown.
Both India and China have deployed several battalions and weapons near the disputed border areas since tension started building at the beginning of May — 42 days ago. However, when the skirmish happened on Monday, soldiers on neither side used gun firing or blast operations — which includes bombing, drilling holes, rock blasting and other means of violent confrontation.
The soldiers from both the sides reportedly used sticks, fists, rocks and wooden clubs — some which were studded with nails or wrapped in barbed wire to fight each other. And, most of the soldiers who were the victims of stone-pelting succumbed to their injuries.
There are primarily two reasons behind why neither of the sides used gun fires. Firstly, according to the Indian army, the violent face-off happened during the de-escalation process. India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar blamed Chinese troops for the uncalled escalation which turned fatal.
Moreover, according to an Indian official — who shared his account with BBC on the condition of anonymity — Indian soldiers were fighting the Chinese soldiers with bare hands, iron rods and stones.
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Another reason the level of restraint is an agreement between India and China which was imposed in 1996 as a confidence-building measure between both sides. It keeps the neighbouring countries from firing gunshots as a sign of mutual respect.
According to the key bilateral agreement of 1996, all personnel — who come “face to face” over differences along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) — will exercise self-restraint and avoid escalation of the situation.
Moreover, the agreement also clarifies that “neither side shall open fire or conduct blast operations within 2 kilometres of the LAC.”
It adds that neither side can “use any hazardous chemicals, or hunt with guns or explosives” within the disputed region. However, the restrictions are not applicable for routine firing activities in small arms firing ranges.
In the case of conducting military exercises, the agreement highlights that “strategic direction of the main force in an exercise shall not be towards the other side,” and restricts holding large scale military exercises involving over 15,000 troops.
"It is an extraordinary escalation. No shots fired for 45 years, and then at least 20 soldiers dead in one evening in rock-throwing and bludgeoning." Shashank Joshi, from The Economist, told BBC.
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