GUWAHATI: China handed over the five 'missing' youths from Arunachal Pradesh to Indian authorities on Saturday morning.
Defence sources said the handover took place near the Kibithu border post in Arunachal’s Anjaw district.
“Indian Army took over all five individuals at Kibithu 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,” defence spokesman Lt Col Harsh Wardhan Pande said.
Arunachal Pradesh is known for its rich natural heritage and adventurous people fond of exploring the nature for medicinal herbs and possessing traditional flair for hunting which involves surviving off the land for weeks in jungles and far-flung remote areas. During such adventurous forays, at times youth have inadvertently strayed to other side of LAC, he said.
The Army officer said altogether three such incidents had taken place this year in Arunachal’s Upper Subansiri and West Siang districts. He said all the individuals were brought back home safely after consistent efforts and coordination by the Indian Army.
“In the latest case, five individuals from Upper Subansiri district had also inadvertently strayed across LAC recently. Indian Army approached PLA on hotline to trace and return them. On 08 Sept, response on the hotline confirmed that the missing individuals had been traced,” Pande said.
Toch Singkam, Prasat Ringling, Dongtu Ebiya, Tanu Baker and Ngaru Diri had been reported missing from Tungdara Mountain or Sera-7 near the LAC since September 2. The incident came to light when two others, who had gone out along with them but managed to escape, narrated the incident of “abduction by the PLA” before locals.
The families of the youths and locals had said earlier that they were working as porters of defence forces. The Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police use locals as porters, especially during the winter months, to take supplies to border posts.