19 Assam labourers missing from near China border in Arunachal

There were reports that the body of a man, suspected to be among the missing men, was found near a river on Monday. But these turned out to be untrue.

Published: 19th July 2022 07:26 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th July 2022 08:12 PM   |  A+A-

Arunachal-China road

The border road that was being built from Huri under Damin circle in Kurung Kumey to the international border. (Photo | Special Arrangement)

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: Nineteen construction labourers from Assam have been missing since they fled their camp near the China border in Kurung Kumey district of Arunachal Pradesh on July 5.

They were engaged in the construction of a border road from Huri under Damin circle in the district to the international border. The Border Roads Organisation is executing the project.

The place has no mobile connectivity and the district administration could not reach them.

There were reports that the body of a man, suspected to be among the missing men, was found near a river on Monday. The reports prompted the district authorities to send two teams of health workers, cops and a magistrate to the site on Tuesday.

However, District Magistrate Bengia Nighee told The New Indian Express the teams did not find any body. He said there were altogether 30 labourers at the camp.

"Nineteen labourers, mostly Muslims from Assam, had fled the camp on the night of July 5, possibly to go home and celebrate Eid. They went towards the jungle and have been missing since," Nighee said.

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"They were brought by a sub-contractor. Sometime in June, he left the camp with an assurance to return by June 25. When he did not show up, another person left the camp saying he would go to a nearby place where there is mobile connectivity and call up the sub-contractor. There is no news about this man too," the DM said.

He said local labourers and rescuers had conducted searches for two-three days but did not find the 19 missing persons. Subsequently, no search operation could be conducted for days together as a portion of a road leading to the jungle was washed away by the rains.

Nighee said the administration had no idea about the whereabouts of the persons. Given that it is a densely-forested and mountainous area with hostile terrain and there are also rivers, he virtually ruled out the possibility of the men inadvertently entering China.

The aerial distance to the international border is around 15-20 km but Nighee said it might take upto 20-30 days even for the mountaineers to reach the border.

"It is impossible for these people from Assam to reach the international border. They might go towards Upper Subansiri but, even in that case, it will take about 30 days to reach the district," the DM said.

"They went in their own style and since they have no idea about the local geography, they will not know which side will take them to where. The jungle is infested with poisonous snakes and the locals are afraid of venturing into it," Nighee said.

He said he would write to the state government to explore the feasibility of searches by helicopters.

India Matters


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