Without any prior announcement, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday visited a military base in remote Ladakh region bordering China where the soldiers of the two countries have been facing off for nearly two months.
A photo uploaded on Modi’s Instagram account showed that Modi, accompanied by India’s military leadership, interacted with troops sitting in a camouflage tent at a military base.
“Interacting with our brave armed forces personnel,” he wrote.
Modi’s visit comes in the backdrop of massive Indian army build-up in Ladakh region following hand-to-hand combat between Indian and Chinese soldiers on June 15 that left 20 Indian soldiers dead and dozens injured, the worst military confrontation in over four decades between the Asian giants.
No other details of Modi’s visit were available. Both India and China have provided little information officially, but media in the two countries have given large coverage to the escalating tensions, much of it replayed on television news channels and social media.
Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party leader, B.L. Santhosh, tweeted Friday that Modi would also meet injured soldiers and called the visit a “big, big booster to soldiers morale. He leads from front.”
According to Indian officials, Chinese troops atop a ridge at the mouth of the narrow valley threw stones, punched and pushed Indian soldiers down a ridge at around 4,500 meters (15,000 feet.)
Since the confrontation, India has sent huge reinforcements of soldiers, military equipment and fighter jets into the already highly militarized region.
The disputed border covers nearly 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles) of frontier that the two countries call the Line of Actual Control and that stretches from Ladakh in the north to the Indian state of Sikkim in the northeast.-AP