New Delhi: It was an unusual gift from Chinese Defence Minister Gen Liang Guang Lie to two Indian Air Force pilots — Rs one lakh in cash. The pilots were given cash in two envelopes after they flew the visiting minister by special IAF aircraft from Mumbai to Delhi on Monday, sources said.They said after seeing off Liang, the pilots checked their ‘unusual gift’ in sealed envelopes and then realised it was Rs one lakh cash in Indian currency.
The Captain of the aircraft then informed the Air Headquarters about the ‘gift’ and it was decided that the money would be deposited in the Government depository
(toshakhana), the sources said.They said the money could not be returned to the Chinese Defence Minister due to sensitivities involved in it.IAF officials said when Indian dignitaries travel on these aircraft for foreign trips, they gift ties and other small mementos as a token of appreciation to the aircraft crew.Guang, who is on a five-day India visit, arrived in Mumbai on Sunday.
The Defence Ministry had provided its aircraft for the inland travel of the visiting Minister. Yesterday, before the beginning of the delegation-level talks, the Chinese Minister had thanked his Indian counterpart A K Antony for the arrangements made by India for him and his entourage.