NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a free hand to the three armed forces of the nation in a crucial security meeting on Wednesday.
The PM held back-to-back meetings with the chiefs of the armed forces, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and other top officials throughout the day as tensions escalated with border nation Pakistan.
The chiefs of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force met the Prime Minister at his official residence and updated on the security situation after Pakistani aircraft violated Indian airspace and an Indian pilot was taken into custody by the neighbouring country, sources said. This is the second such meeting with the three chiefs in 24 hours.
A high alert has been issued in the border areas due to the increasing tension on the Indo-Pak border. Apart from this, police and paramilitary forces are being alerted in all other major cities of the country.
In fast-paced development on Wednesday, both India and Pakistan shot each other's warplanes following an unsuccessful attempt by the border nation to target Indian military installations in retaliatory strikes.
India said it shot down an F-16 warplane of Pakistan while it lost a MiG 21 during the fierce engagement between the air forces of the two countries along the Line of Control(LoC).
Later, Pakistan captured IAF personnel and released his footage. India slammed Pakistan for the vulgar display of the injured IAF personnel and demanded that he be handed back safely.
This is the first aerial engagement between India and Pakistan since the 1971 war.
As tension mounted, the entire airspace north of New Delhi was briefly "vacated". Nine airports in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab were closed for civilian traffic for some part of the morning but opened later in the day.
Jammu and Kashmir was the centre of much of the action on a day of escalating tensions between the two neighbours.
There was also nightlong heavy firing and shelling on forward and civilian areas from across the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch with the Army and the Border Security Force(BSF) being put on the highest degree of alertness.
The developments came a day after India bombed Jaish-e-Mohammed's(JeM) biggest training camp in Pakistan, 11 days after Pulwama attack that killed 40 jawans.