Leh, June 19: The Galwan Valley will always remain a part of India, the grandson of the Ladakhi explorer after whom the valley – the site of the violent clash between Indian and Chinese troops on Monday – was named, told NDTV.
The face-off at Galwan Valley – 20 soldiers including a Colonel were killed in the line of duty – is the worst in nearly five decades along the border with China. Though Beijing has given no official figure, army sources say at least 45 Chinese soldiers were killed or injured.
The government has said “making exaggerated and untenable claims” on areas along the Line of Actual Control or LAC is against the understanding that military commanders of India and China had reached during a meeting on June 6. The remarks followed a Chinese commander’s claim on Galwan valley that was read out at the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s briefing on Wednesday.
“The valley was named after my grandfather, Ghulam Rasool Galwan, after he helped a group of British explorers return safely after losing their way during an expedition,” said Mohammad Amin Galwan, whose family has lived in Ladakh for generations.
“My grandfather was born in 1878 in Leh and had started working as a guide for the British in Tibet, mountains of central Asia and especially the Karakoram Range, when he was 12 years old,” Mr Galwan said, narrating an event that led to the valley being named after his grandfather.
At the time, the British were worried about Russian expansion towards Tibet; Ghulam Rasool Galwan guided troops through the hostile terrain as they tried to gather intelligence about Russian intrusion, which could pose a threat to British interests in India.
His grandson said that during one such expedition with Lord Dunmore, hostile weather in the region led their caravan astray. “My grandfather went in search of a route and reached a river. He found a new route which helped the explorers escape death. So, Dunmore named the valley and the river after my grandfather,” Mohammad Amin Galwan said.
Galwan said China had tried to claim this land in 1962 as well. “This place was a part of India and will remain a part of India. Our soldiers fought them off then and they have done so again. We respect our soldiers and salute their sacrifice,” he said.