Five youths who went missing from Arunachal Pradesh last week will likely be returned to the Indian authorities by the China’s People Liberation Army (PLA) on Saturday, Union minister Kiren Rijiju said.
“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,” Rijiju tweeted on Friday.
The Indian Army had on Tuesday received a communication from China about the whereabouts of the five youths who ment 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 that it is 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 are caught by PLA soldiers, they said.
It was Rijiju who first broke the news about the PLA’s confirmation that the youths were found on the Chinese side of the Sino-Indian border. Rijiju, the Union sports minister, hails from Arunachal Pradesh.
The Chinese PLA has confirmed to 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. https://t.co/UaM9IIZl56
— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) September 11, 2020
However, Tapir Gao, MP from East Arunachal, had cited local reports to allege that the five were “abducted” by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. 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, adding the Chinese government has never recognized the so-called “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 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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