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PLA Returns Five Civilians Who Went Missing from Arunachal Amid India-China Border Standoff

This frame grab from video shows an Indian army convoy driving in Leh, India. The nuclear-armed rivals have been engaged in a tense standoff in Ladakh since May. (AP)

This frame grab from video shows an Indian army convoy driving in Leh, India. The nuclear-armed rivals have been engaged in a tense standoff in Ladakh since May. (AP)

The youths, who went hunting on September 2, were allegedly whisked away by the Chinese troops from Sera-7, an Army patrol zone located around 12 km further north of Nachoin Upper Subansiri district.

Five youths who were allegedly abducted by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China near the McMahon line in Arunachal Pradesh’s Upper Subansiri were released on Saturday in Anjaw district, around 1,000 km away. The youths were handed over to the Indian Army by the PLA after completing necessary formalities, Tezpur-based defence spokesperson Lt Col Harsh Warrdhan Pande said.

“All five of them will now be placed under quarantine for 14 days as per Covid-19 protocols and thereafter be handed over to their family members,” the spokesperson said. The development comes amid a prolonged border face-off between India and China in eastern Ladakh.

The youths, who went hunting on September 2, were allegedly whisked away by the Chinese troops from Sera-7, an Army patrol zone located around 12 km further north of Nachoin Upper Subansiri district.

“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 the other side of the Line of Actual Control,” Pande said.
All such individuals were brought back home safely following consistent efforts and coordination by the Indian Army, he added
Sources, meanwhile, say status quo was maintained at the Line of Actual Control for the third straight night on Friday. Both sides continue to hold position at heights above 15,000 feet, but there was no escalation, sources said.

Both countries have reached a five-point consensus to resolve the four-month-long military standoff in eastern Ladakh, agreeing to “quickly disengage” troops, avoid any action that could escalate tensions and take steps to restore peace along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The agreement in which the two countries said the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side was finalised during the “frank and constructive” talks between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on Thursday evening.

The consensus came days after a fresh confrontation between the armies of the two countries in eastern Ladakh on Monday that further escalated the standoff which erupted in May and triggered a massive military build up by both sides in almost all friction points along the LAC, the de-facto border between the two countries. Indian government sources said the five-point agreement will guide the approach of the two countries in tackling the current border situation which has remained volatile and tense.

“The two foreign ministers agreed that the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side. They agreed therefore that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions,” said a joint press statement issued by India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in the early hours of Friday.

However, there is no mention of any timeline in the statement for disengagement and restoration of peace and tranquillity. India has been consistently maintaining that China should restore status quo ante of April in eastern Ladakh.