After Galwan fightback, 16 Bihar moving to Col Babu’s home state
16 Bihar completed its two-and-a-half-year tenure in eastern Ladakh in March-April, but its movement to the peace location was delayed because of the lockdown measures announced by the government to prevent the spread of Covid-19, an official said.Updated: Jul 10, 2020 06:21 IST
The 16th battalion of Bihar regiment, or 16 Bihar, whose soldiers fought off numerically superior Chinese troops at the cost of their own lives in the remote Galwan Valley on June 15, is moving out of its forward location in eastern Ladakh after completing its two-and-a-half-year tenure near the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC), people familiar with the developments said on Thursday, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The infantry battalion’s 37-year-old commanding officer, Colonel B Santosh Babu, was among the 20 Indian soldiers killed in a seven-hour deadly conflict near Patrolling Point 14 in Galwan Valley, where outnumbered Indian troops inflicted heavy casualties on the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Beijing has not disclosed the number of fatalities it suffered. Apart from 16 Bihar, soldiers from 3 Punjab, 3 Medium Regiment and 81 Field Regiment were involved in the first deadly conflict between Indian and Chinese troops along the LAC in more than five decades.
The battalion is being sent to Hyderabad, which is the capital of Colonel Babu’s home state, Telangana, said an official cited above. Babu’s unit is being replaced by another battalion of Bihar Regiment, 1 Bihar, he said.
“Soldiers from 16 Bihar and other units involved in the brutal Galwan Valley skirmish acquitted themselves honourably and fought their way against heavy odds. 16 Bihar is moving to a peace-time location,” said a second official.
16 Bihar completed its two-and-a-half-year tenure in eastern Ladakh in March-April, but its movement to the peace location was delayed because of the lockdown measures announced by the government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), a third official said.
“The valour displayed by 16 Bihar in an unprecedented combat situation is bound to be documented in India’s military history. The battalion’s actions will inspire those carrying out front-line duties along India’s vast borders,” said former army vice chief Lieutenant General AS Lamba (retd).
The first wave of fighting in Galwan Valley erupted around 6pm on June 15 after Colonel Babu led a squad of 30 soldiers to a location near PP-14 to verify if the PLA had removed some structures erected in the area despite an understanding reached on June 6 by top Indian and Chinese military commanders on a disengagement plan to reduce rising border tensions.
The squad, however, found that a few tents and an observation post were still intact and the Chinese soldiers had not retreated from PP-14. The Indian soldiers confronted the Chinese troops, who refused to remove their installations and vacate the area, triggering a violent clash that involved more than 600 rival soldiers at its peak, as reported by HT on June 22.
Limited military disengagement was initiated in Galwan Valley, Hot Springs and Gogra after the June 6 meeting between the senior commanders. However, the June 15 clash dashed disengagement hopes. A fresh disengagement plan is currently being implemented in eastern Ladakh. The PLA has withdrawn up to 2.5km from friction areas in Galwan Valley, Hot Springs and Gogra, with the Indian Army also pulling back proportionately in those sectors.