Chinese state media reported over the weekend that the People’s Liberation Army had sent martial arts experts to Ladakh before the clash with the Indian Army at Galwan on June 15.
News agency AFP reported that members of a mixed martial arts club “presented themselves for inspection at Lhasa on June 15”. AFP also reported that a Chinese military commander had claimed the martial arts experts would “greatly raise the organisation and mobilisation strength” of troops and their “rapid response and support ability”.
Before the deadly clash at Galwan on June 15, the Indian and Chinese armies had engaged in unarmed clashes and stone-pelting on two occasions in May, resulting in injuries on both sides. The announcement by Chinese media over the weekend on the deployment of the martial arts experts was interpreted as a message that the PLA would not shy away from more localised clashes.
The Indian Army has, reportedly, responded to the claims of martial arts training for the PLA by stating that it had deployed its Ghatak commandos. The Ghatak commandos are a specialised platoon that every infantry battalion of the Indian Army has. Members of the Ghatak force receiving a higher level of training in armed and unarmed combat compared with regular infantry personnel.
The Ghatak commandos are considered to be the ‘tip’ of the spear of an infantry battalion and lead assaults on protected enemy positions and strategic facilities like airfields and artillery sites.