News Channels such as Times Now, Aaj Tak, and India Today recently aired visuals to make claims around the number of Chinese casualties in the Galwan Valley clash that happened on June 15.
The Indian Army on June 16, had issued an official statement on the "violent face-off" that took place between the Indian and Chinese troops at the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh's Galwan valley on June 15.
"Indian and Chinese troops have disengaged at the Galwan area where they had earlier clashed on the night of 15/16 June 2020. 17 Indian troops who were critically injured in the line of duty at the standoff location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain have succumbed to their injuries, taking the total that was killed in action to 20. Indian Army is firmly committed to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation," the Army had said in a statement. The Chinese government, however, has not released the official number of casualties yet.
According to anchor Rohit Sardana, news channel Aaj Tak had accessed "exclusive" visuals which proves "40 PLA soldiers" were killed in the Indo-China skirmish. The bulletin showed an aerial view of a cemetery.
"We are showing you pictures of the graves of Chinese soldiers. Several people in the country wanted proof of the Chinese soldiers who were killed in Galwan clashes. The proof is on your television screens…more than 40 Chinese soldiers died in clashes with India and you can watch how Chinese soldiers paid respect to their tombs (translated from Hindi)," Sardana narrated.
Times Now aired pictures which they claimed showed 106 PLA tombstones revealing the extent of Chinese casualties due to the Galwan Valley clash on June 15.
India Today aired satellite images of a cemetery and claimed that these show the number of graves which according to the anchor was "proof of China's massive Galwan casualties."
Video shows proof of Chinese soldiers casualties during the India-China face-off in Galwan Valley
The claims are false.
The video that was aired by Aaj Tak, India Today, the photographs used by Times Now, and the viral photos of tombstones are all from the Kangxiwa war memorial in China which was built in the Xinjiang province as a tribute to the soldiers who were killed in action during the 1962 Sino-India war.
The video which was aired by Aaj Tak was viral on Twitter, however, with the logo of Chinese media outlet CCTV. A keyword search was done which led to the same video on BiliBili - a Chinese video-sharing site.
This video was uploaded on August 24, 2020.
"Say goodbye to brother! Frontier veterans sweep the graves of martyrs and comrades before retiring," reads the caption. The video is actually a part of a show by Chinese news outlets - CCTV called Defence Stories. CCTV airs a show which talks about the daily life of China's defence forces.
The video was uploaded on Chinese social media site Weibo by the official handle of the channel on August 24, 2020. According to the caption, the video shows how the border regiment of PLA has an old tradition. As part of this, retiring soldiers visit the Kangxiwa memorial to pay their respects.
The translated lines of the video read, "For a long time, the border defense regiment of the Xinjiang Military Region has a tradition where they had to visit Kangxiwa Martyrs Cemetery Road before retiring."
It further states that there are 108 soldiers buried at the Kangxiwa Memorial.
Below is a comparison of the video by CCTV channel and the one seen in Aaj Tak:
Below is a comparison of the video by CCTV channel and the one seen in Times Now:
How Many Graves Are In Kangxiwa?
The view of the cemetery was aired by India Today claiming that it has 105 graves. Defence expert, Colonel Vinayak Bhat (R), during the broadcast, had stated that there were 105 graves as of December 2019. He had added it was difficult to comment on the number of new additions that have been made since there was a lack of satellite imagery. He further said that "certainly there have been casualties."
According to a report by Alt News, the graphic was traced using Google Earth which revealed that it was from 2011. 105 graves with 43 on left and 62 on right can be seen in the photo. A report by India Today published 29 August had carried the same image stating that it was from 2011.
China Military Online which reports on the news of the Chinese People's Liberation Army republished a story by the People Liberation Army Daily, which is the official newspaper of the Chinese army. The article which was published on March 3, 2019, stated that the number of graves at the cemetery is 107, two more than the graves as seen in the satellite images.
Therefore, as of March, the number of graves at the memorial stood at 107. In a recent video uploaded by CCTV on Weibo, a PLA soldier can be seen kneeling in front of a tombstone, wiping it clean and then spending a few minutes talking to it.
This video was also seen in Aaj Tak's broadcast at the time stamps: 1 minute 28 seconds and 2 minutes 27 seconds.
The translated text of the tombstone according to the Google Translate app showed that the soldier had died in December 2019. The soldier who was seen kneeling down was identified as 'Sun Yuanhong' and he was saying goodbye to his friend, a soldier Wei Zhengjie. According to the rest of the epitaph, he had died in 2019 during a practice training drill and that he is buried at the War Memorial built for the 1962 Indo China war martyrs.
Therefore, with the addition of Zhengjie's tomb, in December 2019, the number rose to 108.
Viral Photo Of Tombstone
A photo which was doing the rounds on social media showed a tombstone with Chinese letters on it. Viral posts claimed that it showed the tomb of a soldier who died in the Galwan clash of June 2020.
According to the Chinese reporter, the tomb identified the soldier as Chen Xiangrong. Born in December 2001, he had died in June,] 2020.