Missing Arunachal youths found in China
The five youths missing since Friday from Upper Subansiri district in Arunachal Pradesh have been found on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control, China’s army has informed its Indian counterpart.
Union minister of state Kiren Rijiju revealed the development through a tweet on Tuesday evening.
Tezpur-based defence PRO Harsh Wardhan Pande said the youths had inadvertently crossed over to the other side on September 2, and confirmed that the process for their release had begun.
Arunachal Pradesh shares a porous and disputed 1,080km border with China. Media reports had claimed the Chinese army had kidnapped the five villagers who may have got close to a disputed border point, Sera 7, on a hunting expedition.
Since the incident came amid tensions on the India-China border in Ladakh, there was widespread concern over the fate of the youths.
Local organisations had demanded the state and central governments take immediate steps to ensure their safety and release.
On Monday, the Chinese foreign ministry had said it had no details to share on the missing youths. It had also reaffirmed the Chinese stand that Arunachal was part of South Tibet, adding to the tensions.
“China’s PLA (People’s Liberation Army) has responded to the hotline message sent by Indian Army. They have confirmed that the missing youths from Arunachal Pradesh have been found by their side,” Rijiju tweeted.
“Further modalities to hand over the persons to our authority (are) being worked out.”
Rijiju, MP from Arunachal West which includes Upper Subansiri district, had on Sunday tweeted that India’s army had contacted the Chinese army through a “hotline message” to seek the youths’ whereabouts.
Pande tweeted: “Chinese Army on 08 Sept responded on hotline and confirmed that the missing Indians have been found on their side. Formalities for their early transfer (are) being coordinated with the Chinese Army.”
Sources said the Chinese had earlier captured a young man from the Nacho circle in March and released him after nearly a month’s negotiations. The five missing youths are also from a village in the Nacho circle.
Tagin Cultural Society secretary-general Lardik Kare said the missing youths being located was a welcome development.
“Now all efforts should be made to secure their early and safe release. Our team will go to Nacho tomorrow to get ground-level reports,” Kare said.
Till Tuesday, the missing youths’ families and the organisations demanding their release had not lodged a formal missing persons complaint with the police or the civil administration. But the local police had confirmed that the five were missing.
The village where the five youths live is about 3km from the Nacho township and 120km from district headquarters Daporijo. From Nacho township, it takes two to three days to reach some of the 20-25 villages in the Nacho circle, which has a population of around 5,000. The Sera 7 border point is a 10-to-12-day walk from Nacho township.
The local people earn a living through hunting, fishing, medicinal plants and jhum cultivation.