New Delhi: Even as India and China standoff in eastern Ladakh continues, a former vice chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF) has said that the IAF reactivated the historic Daulat Beg Oldie airstrip in Ladakh, without the permission of the then-Congress led UPA government, in 2008. Also Read - Ladakh Standoff: What Transpired Between India, China During 3-Hour Long Military Level Talks | Read Here

Speaking to news agency ANI, Air Marshal (Retired) PK Barbora said, “Nothing was done in writing, the government was informed through proper channels only after I had landed and come back from there.”

On being asked about the government’s reaction, he said, “They asked why did you do it? We said that it is the Air Force’s responsibility to maintain troops’ logistics support and it falls within our jursidiction, within our territory, so we did it.”

The former air vice chief added that the Chinese wanted to have a flag meeting about it but despite India agreeing to the meeting, China didn’t come to discuss it.

On why he didn’t seek government’s permission, he told ANI, “Since there have been no operations here after 1965, we practically operated for three years and then we closed it down because we didn’t have an aircraft,” adding that in 43 years, there had been no clearance to re-operate from there and every time permission was sought, the reply used to be ‘no.’

Notably, the Dault Beg Oldie airstrip is one of the world’s highest advanced airstrips at an altitude of nearly 17,000 feet. It was built during the 1962 war with China but has not been used since then.It is strategically very important as it is close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China.

In 2008, Air Marshal (R) Barbora had landed there in an AN-32 aircraft, thus reactivating the airstrip after 43 years.