Adverse weather, Chinese hostility and psyops: Latest army brawl video from Sikkim decoded

Right about the time the Indian Army’s Lt Gen Harinder Singh was holding talks with his Chinese counterpart Maj Gen Lin Liu at Ladakh’s Chushul-Moldo, a video clip broke the surface on social media, popping up first on Instagram, and then quickly proliferating elsewhere.

The clip, just over 5 minutes long, depicted a scene that has become familiar — Indian and Chinese army personnel sparring in a lonely forward area, throwing angry punches over territorial transgressions. While the precise details of the video remained unknown yesterday, India Today TV has learnt that it is from this month in North Sikkim.

While there remains no categorical confirmation, multiple sources say the video is from the base of the 22,000-feet high Chomo Yummo mountain in North Sikkim, which sits practically on the International Border.

Note, the border between the state of Sikkim and Tibet is a ‘delineated’ border, rather than a perceptually disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) like in Ladakh.

Chomo Yummo is a popular feature with Indian Army mountaineers, with regular expeditions organised to its peak. Chomo Yummo is just 6 km away from Naku La, where troops on both sides were involved in a considerably more violent brawl on May 9. While the June fisticuffs show an altercation between just 20-30 men at most, the May 9 brawl involved over 150 men, with injuries inflicted on both sides. The May 9 incident itself came three days after a similar fistfight on the banks of the Pangong Tso in faraway Ladakh.

The latest altercation appears to be a clash between two patrols, including officers from both sides. After starting off with calls from both sides to ‘go back’, things quickly escalate into fisticuffs, with men on both sides egging their videographers to keep the camera rolling. An Indian soldier speaking to an Indian officer, likely a Captain or Major, is seen abruptly and violently interrupted by a Chinese officer, who is then beaten back. Things calm down again, before erupting again in a flurry of punches, headlocks.

One part of the video that found unsurprising traction on social media is a moment when the Indian Army videographer turning his lens towards a pair of Chinese men, with the taunt, “Uska muh dekhna… gol gappe khayega? (look at his face…will he eat golgappas?)”

But, as anyone in the Army will tell you, such incidents aren’t fun and games. For one thing, these are forbiddingly hostile high altitude areas, where the human body already takes a heavy beating from the weather. Coupled with simmering tensions that have stretched from Ladakh to other parts of the frontier and even to normally peaceful north Sikkim, and a video likely intended to be a psyops swipe has also revealed the extremely trying conditions in which Indian Army personnel operate.

The video is the latest in a string of psychological operations hits from both sides since tensions began in Ladakh. Videos have so far emerged of brawls on the shores of Pangong Tso, Indian teams forcing Chinese teams to reverse their tracks in an unspecified Ladakh location, and a still photograph of apparently injured Indian soldiers on the banks of the Pangong Lake.

As the huge trust deficit between India and China post the Galwan Valley clash ensures an extended period of uncertainty at the border and Line of Control, expect the information battlefield to be a regular feed. At India Today, we’ll continue to put them into context for you.

Source – India Today