by Madeeha Khan
Galwan valley falls at the Indo-China Border. The Galwan River is a fast-flowing 80kms long river flowing from the disputed Aksai Chin region administered by China to Ladakh, a union territory in India. The river takes has a sharp bend before meeting the Shyok river and hence forms a Y like a shape, which is known as the Y- Junction.
The Sino- Indian Border dispute dates back from the 1950s when Beijing first claimed over the Aksai Chin which today is a 2342 kms long national highway of China which connects its western province of Xinjiang with Tibet. China also wanted the southern west part of India, to which India objected. In 1956, China’s claim line showed that the Galwan river is to the west of Aksai Chin but in 1960 China revised its claim, stating that the line is to the west of the river along with the mountain ridge adjoining the Shyok river valley, however, India followed the earlier claim. In 1962, these claims led to a military stand-off in the Galwan Valley. A similar stand-off was witnessed on 16th June 2020. It was said that a violent clash took place near India’s Patrolling Point 14 in Galwan Valley where 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers were killed.
Although, the etymology states that the Galwan river has been named after a Ladakhi explorer of Kashmiri descent Ghulam Rasool Galwan, who first explored it. In 1892, Charles Murray the 7th Earl of Dunmore of the British army along with his caravan went on an expedition where they faced bad weather and strayed away from the traditional routes in the Aksai Chin. The ancient trade route used to be covered in snow and hence a new route was found by Ghulam Rasool Galwan. The young 14-year-old boy used his knowledge of the treacherous terrain to find a safe route to save the expedition. Murray was pleased by Galwan’s efforts that he decided to name the newfound passage after Rasool Galwan, as the Galwan Nullah and the valley as the Galwan Valley.
Ghulam Rasool Galwan was born in 1878 in a very poor family. He joined a long-distance and paracletic expedition at the age of 12 to earn a living. He was amazing at what he did and acquired a deep knowledge of the passes and valleys of the entire region. In 1923 he wrote a memoir, ‘Servants of Sahibs – A Book to be Read Aloud’. The book consisted of his life’s journey and adventures as he assisted captain Francis Younghusband. Younghusband has written the foreword of this book, as he was a British explorer and leading figure in The Great Game between British and Russia. Rasool Galwan has for almost 35 years assisted various expedition. He passed away on 30th March 1925.
Mohammad Amin Galwan the grandson of Ghulam Rasool Galwan has shown old pictures and proof that Galwan valley always belonged to Ladakh, India. He also said that from the last 200 years this area belongs to them and it will remain. He said, “War is not a solution as it causes a loss to everyone and the issue should be resolved through talks. War only brings destruction, hope the stand-off at LAC is resolved peacefully. ”
However, the LAC is not at peace yet and war can not be a way out of this. Both Governments need to sit together and find a key to it. Both the countries have lost a number of their soldiers in this stand-off and they shouldn’t fight to lose more.
Image Credits:- Kashmir Observer