“IT SEEMS a 100-200 kg weight is off my chest,” said Opang Taron, the father of the missing Arunachal Pradesh youth who was returned Thursday morning to the Indian Army by the Chinese authorities.
On Thursday, the family went to the Indian Army camp at Tuting, near their ancestral Zido village, with the authorities hoping to put them in touch with Miram over video-conference. However, bad network conditions at Kibithu, where the handing over of Miram happened, meant they had to settle for a phone call. Hearing his mother’s voice after more than a week in Chinese captivity, the 17-year-old broke down.
The entire family had been holding its breath waiting for Miram’s return, the 49-year-old Opang told The Indian Express, adding that the authorities would monitor Miram’s health and check his Covid status before handing him over.
Jony Yaying, Miram’s friend who was with him when China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) reportedly spotted him, was called by the Army to Kibithu to officially identify Miram.
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Miram was handed over to the Army by the PLA at the Wacha-Damai interaction point in the Kibithu sector around 10.30 am.
Soon after his return, Union minister and BJP leader Kiren Rijiju tweeted, “The Chinese PLA has handed over the young boy from Arunachal Pradesh Shri Miram Taron to Indian Army. Due procedures are being followed including the medical examination.”
He added: “I thank our proud Indian Army for pursuing the case meticulously with PLA and safely securing our young boy back home.”
Opang said: “I asked Miram how he is. He said he’s fine. I tried to encourage him and keep up his spirit, told him that the Army officials were there to take care of him and that he should not be afraid. But hearing his mother’s voice, he started crying.”
Miram’s mother Kutjit had taken ill after his disappearance, developing blood pressure issues. The family said she smiled in days for the first time on Thursday.Opang said he approached “everyone” he could to get Miram back, while consoling the family at home. “I can’t explain how relieved I feel,” he said, thanking the Army, Centre, Arunachal Pradesh government and officials.
Rijiju had informed Wednesday that India had received confirmation from the PLA that Miram would be handed over, and that they would disclose the exact place and time. He had also clarified that the PLA had found him on the Chinese side, and that it was due to bad weather that his return had got delayed.
Global Times, a newspaper affiliated to the Chinese government, quoted the PLA’s Western Theatre Commander saying Thursday that “after providing humanitarian aid, Chinese border defense troops turned over” an Indian citizen.
Miram had gone missing on January 18, and his case became known after BJP Arunachal MP Tapir Gao raised the matter, alleging that he had been abducted by the PLA from inside Indian territory.
On January 20, China had intimated finding a youth and requested for details to establish his identity.
Rijiju had assured that the government was taking all possible steps to ensure Miram’s return, and urged everyone to be cautious in their statements. “The safety and safe return of our young Arunachal Pradesh youth is the priority,” he tweeted.
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