Kashmir link to base of Sino-Indian forces stand-off

Flashpoint of Sino-Indian forces stand-off has unique Kashmir connection

Representative image (PTI)

Galwan river area, a flashpoint for the 1962 war and epicenter of prevailing standoff between Sino-India forces in the newly carved out Union Territory of Ladakh, has a unique connection with Kashmir.

Right now the Chinese troops are reportedly said to have moved in the Galwan valley which was also a flashpoint in the 1962 Sino-India war. According to a report, China has changed its claims over the valley thrice. It started with a small territory. Now, Beijing says that the entire Galwan valley belongs to China which the Global Times editorial also repeats.

According to historians, the area is named after Ghulam Rasool Galwan, whose ancestors ran away from Kashmir and settled in Ladakh. Galwan was the first person to explore the area in 1899 when he was part of an expedition team that was exploring the areas to the north of the Chang Chenmo Valley.

He died in 1925. In his autobiography “Servants of Sahibs”, Galwan traces his roots to Kashmir. In the book written in broken English, he writes that his great grandfather “Kala Galwan (Black Robber)” was a clever robber. “He climbed high walls like a cat. He never lived in a house,” he writes.

Comparing his great grandfather with Robinhood, Galwan claimed that his great grandfather robbed the rich and gave money to the poor and even then Maharaja of Kashmir was afraid of him. As per the book, Galwan says the Maharaja hatched a conspiracy with one of trusted friends of his great grandfather to catch him. 

Sir Francis Younghusband, a British Army officer and explorer, writes that Galwan behaved as a gentleman in every situation. “He came from the very poorest. He started as a simple village lad. But in every situation he behaved like a gentleman,” he writes.

In his book—“Into the Untravelled Himalaya: Travels, Treks, and Climbs” Harish Kapadia writes that Galwan was among the pony-men taken on by Lord Dunmore to the Pamirs in 1890.  In 1914, he states that Galwan was appointed as the caravan leader (a very prestigious post) of the big Italian scientific expedition of Filippo de Filippi, which explored the Rimo glacier systems and spent several months in the area.

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