Dr Kotnis, a native of Solapur in Maharashtra, was among the five surgeons who had volunteered to treat the Chinese soldiers at the behest of Jawaharlal Nehru. Netaji Shubhas Chandra Bose had arranged for the team's visit to China.
Dr Kotnis served under harsh conditions for four years and perished owing to malnutrition and sickness at a young age of 32 in 1942. There were times when Dr Kotnis operated for 72 hours at a stretch. He left behind his widow Guo Qinglan and a little son. Both have died.
Chinese leader Mao Tse Tung had said that the death of Dr Kotnis saw China losing a friend.
The doctor's sacrifice was later immortalised by filmmaker V Shantaram in Dr Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani. The Chinese honour him to this day, showering flowers on his grave and releasing postal stamps in his honour.
On Tuesday, five members of the Kotnis family met Premier Li, including Dr Kotnis's sister Manorama, 92, his grandnieces and nephws Sanika Jain, Abhay jain, Kishore Khot and Shalmali Borkar, all doctors. Another sister Vatsala, who was regularly invited by the previous Chinese leaders, died last year.
The Kotnis family later expressed gratitude to the Premier.