New Delhi / Itanagar: Five youngsters from Arunachal Pradesh, who went missing on September 2 but were later found to be in Chinese territory, were handed over to India by the People's Liberation Army on Saturday. After months of worsening tensions Amid the ongoing stand-off between the two sides at the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh, both India and China surprised many by announcing that troops are to quickly disengage. The incident first came to light when two members of the group returned home from the forest and informed the villagers that the five were "abducted" by the PLA from Sera-7, an Indian Army patrol zone located about 12 km further north of Nacho. Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu and Union Minister Kiren Rijiju on Saturday thanked Indian Army for securing the smooth return of five men from the state, who had recently gone missing. “China's PLA has handed over our 5 boys to our side here at Kibitu area. I appreciate Indian Army for the smooth and safe return of our citizens,” Rijiju said in a tweet.
The youth were handed over to Indian authorities in Damai near Kibithu in Anjaw district of eastern Arunachal Pradesh. “The Indian Army took custody of the five individuals at Kibitu on Saturday after completing all the formalities. They will now be quarantined for 14 days as per Covid-19 protocol and thereafter handed over to their families," Defence PRO Lt Col Harsh Wardhan Pande said in a statement. The Kibithu (Arunachal)-Damai (China) area is a place where Indian and Chinese armies hold border meetings. Local media had reported that Toch Singkam, Prasat Ringling, Dongtu Ebiya, Tanu Baker, and Ngaru Diri -- all belonging to the Tagin community -- had gone to the forest for hunting when they were reportedly kidnapped near Nacho in Upper Subansiri district. The PLA had on Tuesday conveyed to the Indian Army that the five youth, who went missing on the Sino-Indian border in Upper Subansiri district, were found by them in their territory.
Foreign Ministers of India and China, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Wang Yi, had arrived at a ‘Five Points’ agreement to reduce the prevailing tension on the Ladakh border during their talks in Moscow on the sidelines of the SCO Summit on September 10. Defence sources had said that persistent efforts of the Indian Army led to the whereabouts of five missing hunters, who had inadvertently crossed the LAC. The defence spokesman said: "The Indian Army had approached the PLA on hotline to trace and return the youths. On September 8, a response on the hot-line confirmed that the missing individuals had been traced."