The five youths who went missing from Arunachal Pradesh’s Upper Subansiri district last week were returned to Indian authorities by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Saturday (September 12), the Indian Army confirmed.
According to defence sources, the five youths returned to India almost 11 days after they were said to have been abducted. They were handed over to Indian authorities in Damai, near Kibithu in Anjaw district of eastern Arunachal Pradesh.
“Five individuals from the Upper Subansiri District inadvertently strayed across LAC recently. The Indian Army had approached PLA on the hotline to trace and return them. On September 8, the response on the hotline confirmed that the missing individuals had been traced. The Indian Army took over all five individuals in Kibitu on September 12 after completing all formalities,” Lt. Colonel Harsh Wardhan Pande, PRO Defence, Tezpur, said.
According to a statement issued by the Indian Army, the five individuals will now be quarantined for 14 days as per COVID-19 protocol and will thereafter be handed over to their families.
This is the third such incident to take place in the Upper Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh this year. In all previous cases, individuals were brought home safely after consistent efforts and coordination by the Indian Army in the past.
On Friday, Union minister Kiren Rijiju confirmed on Twitter that the five missing hunters were found by China’s PLA and would be handed over to the Indian side on Saturday.
“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,” Rijiju had tweeted.
The five youths inadvertently crossed over to the other side and went missing on September 2 from the Sino-Indian border in the district. China had on September 7 brushed off concerns over the whereabouts of youths from a village in Arunachal Pradesh allegedly abducted by the PLA and said it had never recognized the northeastern state, which it claims is part of southern Tibet.