PM Modi's meet comes at a time when Chinese, Indian troops have been skirmishing in Sikkim, Ladakh (File)
- PM Modi holds meet with NSA, Chief of Defence Staff, 3 service chiefs
- Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also briefed service chiefs, sources said
- Meeting in backdrop of India-China face-off in border areas of Ladakh
Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a high-level meeting to discuss the ongoing stand-off with China, sources said. Those attending include the three service chiefs, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and the Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat. A separate meeting was held earlier with the foreign secretary. Sources said prior to the meeting with PM Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had met three service chiefs and briefed them. The flurry of meetings comes at a time when Chinese and Indian troops have been skirmishing in Sikkim and Ladakh. Satellite pictures have shown that Beijing is expanding an airbase near Ladakh. Close shots have even revealed fighter jets on the tarmac. Yesterday, China in a notice on its embassy website, offered to fly back its citizens who wanted to return home.
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Satellite images have shown massive construction activity at the Ngari Gunsa airport in Tibet, located 200 km from the Pangong Lake -- the site of skirmishes between the Indian and Chinese troops earlier this month. Two images taken a month apart show the addition of what appears to be a second taxi-track or a secondary tarmac to position helicopters or combat aircraft. The last image was dated May 20.
A third image shows a close-up of the main tarmac at the airport with a line-up of four fighter jets believed to be either J-11 or J-16 fighters of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force.
The face-off between China and India started after China reportedly expressed displeasure about the construction of a road and bridge in the Galwan area by India. "The road was constructed to help local population," a senior officer had told NDTV.
On May 5 and 6, at least 15 to 20 members of an Indian patrol team were involved in hand-to-hand fighting at the high altitude picket after Chinese transgression inside the Indian territory. China had also pitched tents near river Galwan -- a flashpoint during the 1962 war.
Later, the army said the two sides "disengaged after dialogue and interaction at local level".
Around that time, Chinese transgression took place on air and water too. Sources said the Union home ministry was informed that the Chinese troops were patrolling the Pangong lake on motor boats.
The army said Chinese helicopters were seen operating in the disputed region in Ladakh. In an interview to NDTV, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria said, "(Chinese) helicopter activity has seen a spurt" in Ladakh.
The army had thereafter strengthened security in the area, stationing troops in the Galwan region. Additional troops were sent to the northern bank of Pangong Tso and Demchok.
Yesterday, a notice in Mandarin was put up on the website of the Chinese embassy, asking Chinese nationals living in India who wanted to return home to book tickets in special flights at their own expense.
The US has said border disputes with China – be it in Ladakh, Sikkim or the South China Sea – are a "reminder of the threat" pose by the Asian nation. The "provocations and disturbing behaviour by China that poses questions about how China seeks to use its growing power", Alice Wells, Outgoing Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, had said.