September 12, 2020 1:22:40 pm
In a statement today, the Indian Army said: “The Indian Army took over all five individuals at Kibitu on 12 Sep 2020 after completing all the formalities. Individuals will now be quarantined for 14 days as per COVID-19 protocol and will thereafter be handed over to their family members.”
The Indian Army had on Tuesday received a communication from China about the whereabouts of the five youths who went missing from Arunachal Pradesh’s Upper Subansiri district. The PLA had conveyed that the youths were found by them across the Sino-Indian border.
Government officials and local residents told The Indian Express it was common for people to visit interior parts of forests along the border for livelihood purposes. Since the Line of Actual Control is not clearly demarcated in many places, they were caught by PLA soldiers, they said.
The communication from PLA had been announced by Union Minister Kiren Rijiju, who hails from Arunachal Pradesh.
“The Chinese PLA has confirmed to the Indian Army to hand over the youths from Arunachal Pradesh to our side. The handing over is likely to take place anytime tomorrow i.e. 12th September 2020 at a designated location,” he announced on Friday.
However, Tapir Gao, MP from East Arunachal, had cited local reports to allege the five were “abducted” by the PLA. On Monday, China brushed off concerns over the whereabouts of the five youths and needled India, saying it has never recognised Arunachal Pradesh which it claims is part of south Tibet.
“China’s position on the east sector of the China-India boundary, or Zangnan (the southern part of China’s Xizang (Tibet) ), is consistent and clear,” PTI quoted Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian as saying at a media briefing in Beijing. Lijian said the Chinese government had never recognised “Arunachal Pradesh”.
“I’m not aware of the situation you mentioned,” the spokesperson said when asked about any updates about the missing Indian nationals.
The development comes amid a border standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh. After two-and-half hours of bilateral talks between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, the two sides on Thursday reached a five-point agreement to disengage and de-escalate the situation along the border.
In March, a 21-year-old man was abducted by the PLA from Asapila sector near the McMahon line. While his two friends managed to escape, Togley Sinkam was taken away at gunpoint, his family had said. After 19 days in captivity, the youth was released by the Chinese Army.
On September 2, the Indian Army provided food, warm clothes and medical assistance to three Chinese citizens who had lost their way in sub-zero temperatures at an altitude of 17,500 feet in a border area in North Sikkim.
The Indian Army personnel deployed in the area also guided the Chinese citizens, including a woman, to return to the Chinese side and reach their destination.
(Inputs from PTI)
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