The comments follow an Indian government source's claim that Beijing has released 10 Indian soldiers it captured during Monday's deadly Galwan Valley skirmish. China blames India for the military clash that left 20 Indian troops dead.

Indian army vehicles can be seen in northern India's Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir state near the border with China on June 17, 2020.
Indian army vehicles can be seen in northern India's Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir state near the border with China on June 17, 2020. (AFP)

China said Friday that it has not detained any Indian soldiers, following Indian media reports that China had released 10 of them late Thursday.

“As far as I know, currently China has not seized any Indian personnel,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said when asked about the report at a daily briefing.

He did not elaborate. Indian officials have also denied that Indian troops were in Chinese custody.

The comments come as China blames India for a recent military clash at their Himalayan border that left 20 people dead on the Indian side. China has not said whether any of its soldiers died.

The vicious hand-to-hand combat on Monday night in Galwan Valley was the deadliest clash on the India-China border in more than five decades.

Indian sources say troops were captured, later released

An Indian government source earlier said China returned 10 Indian soldiers who were captured during the Galwan border fighting which happened earlier on Monday night. 

The alleged release came after an agreement was reached at the major general-level talks on Wednesday evening, Indian newspaper The Hindu said.

The Indian army did not comment on the release, which according to the source took place on Thursday evening, instead referring to a government statement that said all of its soldiers were accounted for.

It said the army clarified in a statement that there were “no Indian troops missing in action”.

Troops remained on alert at the Galwan Valley. Unconfirmed reports by Indian media say 40 Chinese soldiers were killed. 

READ MORE: Indian families seek answers as bodies of soldiers killed return home

This map shows the Line of Actual Control, the contested border between India and China, as well the region including Limpiyadhura, Lipulkeh and Kalapani – areas which Nepal recently included in its map which India rejected. June 19, 2020.
This map shows the Line of Actual Control, the contested border between India and China, as well the region including Limpiyadhura, Lipulkeh and Kalapani – areas which Nepal recently included in its map which India rejected. June 19, 2020. (Graphics / TRTWorld)

Congress party wants answers

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi is meeting top opposition leaders on Friday as the government tries to lower tensions with China.

Leaders of more than a dozen opposition parties are expected to attend the meeting as ties fray between the two nuclear-armed nations.

The main opposition Congress party said the country deserves to know the truth. "It deserves a leadership that is willing to do anything before allowing its land to be taken," the party said in a statement.

Both countries said they were communicating through military and diplomatic channels afterwards and stressed the importance of their broader bilateral relationship. Experts have said the two nations were unlikely to head to war, but that easing tensions quickly will be difficult.

The Himalayan clash has fanned growing anti-Chinese sentiments due to the coronavirus pandemic, which began in China late last year. India's caseload has climbed to fourth-highest in the world.

Emotions were high in the southern city of Hyderabad, where thousands watched the funeral procession of Colonel Santosh Babu, one of the casualties in Monday's clash.

READ MORE: Chinese and Indian troops clashed in freezing Galwan Valley. Here’s why

India to join meeting with Russia, China

India will take part in a trilateral meeting with Russia and China next week, India's foreign ministry said on Thursday.

Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar will join the June 23 meeting, which will be held virtually, ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava told reporters in New Delhi.

Tensions running high since May

The clash escalated a stand-off that began in early May, when Indian officials said Chinese soldiers crossed the border in three places, erecting tents and guard posts and ignoring warnings to leave. 

That triggered shouting matches, stone-throwing and fistfights between the opposing sides, much of it replayed on TV news programs and in social media.

The action has taken place along a remote stretch of the 3,380-kilometre Line of Actual Control, the border established following a war between India and China in 1962 that resulted in an uneasy truce.

China claims about 90,000 square kilometres of territory in India’s northeast, while India says China occupies 38,000 square kilometres of its territory in the Aksai Chin Plateau in the Himalayas, a contiguous part of the Ladakh region.

India unilaterally declared Ladakh a federal territory while separating it from disputed Kashmir in August 2019. 

China was among the countries to condemn the move, raising it at forums including the UN Security Council. India was elected to the council this week.

READ MORE: Nepal signs off new map including territory claimed by India, deepens row

Source: TRTWorld and agencies