For an average healthy human, it takes at least two days to acclimatize to Leh’s height of over 11,000 feet with rarefied atmosphere, dry air and ultra-violet rays from a blazing sun in cold desert Ladakh. But 69-year old Prime Minister Narendra Modi today defied physical odds when he landed up at Kushok Bakula Rimpochee airport at Leh to be briefed about operational preparedness of the Indian military against the aggressive Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
Accompanied by Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and Army Chief Manoj Mukund Naravane, Prime Minister went straight to XIV Corps headquarters at Nimu outside Leh to understand the Chinese belligerence in Ladakh with Corps Commander Lt Gen Harinder Singh briefing Narendra Modi in presence of Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Y K Joshi.
The decision of PM Modi to go to Leh was kept under wraps till he landed at the airport with the entire coordination done by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Rawat and Naravane. Doval, who came out of self-imposed isolation after two weeks, chose to remain back in Delhi.
The presence of PM Modi in the Ladakh region has not only sent a huge signal to China that India means business and will not surrender even an inch of its territory but also to the local population with the head of government coming down to reassure them.
The PM’s visit is also a very strong message to President Xi Jinping that either he gets his aggressive Western Theatre Commander Zhao Zongqi to restore status quo ante or accept the inevitable consequences of PLA escalation. The Indian Army and Chinese PLA are locked up at four points on the LAC in East Ladakh with the latter consolidating on ground while mouthing peace overtures.
Flanked by Gen Rawat and Gen Naravane, the PM has also assured the country that India is quite capable of handling China, which has created both health and security problems for the globe with corona virus from Wuhan and pre-meditated confrontation with India, ASEAN and Australia.
It is understood that PM Modi will give a clear message to the Ladakh commanders that they should not initiate any escalation from their side but also retaliate to any aggression. The same message was also given out during the 2017 Doklam crisis.