World War III resulting from rising tensions between nuclear-armed India and China was trending on Twitter after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a brutal hand-to-hand combat with Chinese troops in Galwan Valley in the Himalayan region.
The casualties on the Indian side included 19 soldiers and a commanding officer of an infantry battalion. Even though China has refrained from confirming fatalities on its side, US Intelligence reportedly put the number at 35, including a senior officer.
What Happened at the Galwan Valley?
In the bloody incident, the first for 53 years, Chinese and Indian troops used iron bars and rocks besides engaging in hand-to-hand combat in the steep jagged terrain in eastern Ladakh. The skirmish lasted for almost six hours on Monday night.
Quoting sources in Delhi, The Guardian reported that the clash started after a patrol of Indian soldiers unexpectedly encountered Chinese troops in a steep section of the mountainous region, believed to have been vacated by the People's Liberation Army, following a disengagement agreement between both sides on 6 June.
"The two armies engaged in a hand-to-hand fighting. It was then an Indian commanding officer was pushed, fell from the narrow ridge and fell to his death in the gorge below. The Indian troops immediately called for reinforcements from a post located 2 miles away. Eventually about 600 men were fighting with stones, iron rods and other makeshift weapons in near-total darkness for up to six hours. Most deaths on both sides occurred from soldiers falling or being knocked from mountain terrain," sources told The Guardian.
PM Modi Says Soldiers' 'Sacrifice Will Not Go in Vain'
Almost a day after the incident, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the "sacrifice" of the Indian soldiers will not "go in vain". Urging that differences with China should not turn into disputes, Modi said: "For us, the unity and sovereignty of the country is the most important... India wants peace but it is capable to give a befitting reply if instigated."
US News reported that the American intelligence believes 35 Chinese troops died, including one senior officer. "According to the US assessment, the Chinese government considers the casualties among their troops as a humiliation for its armed forces and has not confirmed the numbers for fear of emboldening other adversaries," a source said.
The Express reported that the Indian government has granted powers to its armed forces to make emergency procurement. The outlet further said the Navy has also asked to move its firepower close to the Malacca Strait and, if needed, anywhere else in the Indo-Pacific to counter any action from China.
The Indian government has also reportedly moved its fighter jets to more advanced locations in preparation for a possible violent move from China. Even though senior officials are engaged in discussions to de-escalate the situation, the government doesn't want to take any chances, especially after Monday's incident, reported the outlet.
World War 3 Trends on Twitter
Hours after the news of the death of the Indian soldiers broke, netizens raised the possibility of a third world war starting soon. World War III was one of the top trending topics on Twitter. Numerous users on Twitter also came up with memes related to World War 3. Here is a look at some of them: