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 amid the ongoing stand-off between the two sides at the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh.
The five returned to India nearly 10 days after they were allegedly abducted, defence sources said.
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.
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.
Lt Col Pande said that 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 inadvertently stray to other side of LAC. The Indian Army has always been proactive in tracing the lost locals and helping them return home. Three such incidents, including the latest one, took place in the current year in Upper Subansiri and West Siang districts. All such individuals were brought back home safely after consistent efforts and coordination by the Indian Army,” he said in a release.
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. The Indian Army, true to its ethos, has once again worked tirelessly for the well-being of the people of north-east.”
According to the local media, 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.
Nacho is the last administrative circle along the McMahon line and is around 120 km from the Upper Subansiri district headquarters Daporijo, which is itself 280 km from state capital Itanagar. Arunachal Pradesh’s northeast region shares a 1,080 km-long border with China.
Union Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Minister Kiren Rijiju on Friday announced that the PLA had confirmed to the Indian Army to hand over the youths from Arunachal Pradesh to India.
On Tuesday, he had said that the PLA had responded to the hotline message from the Indian Army about the youths.
Congress’ Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha, Gaurav Gogoi, had urged Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to ensure the safe return of the five youths amid local media reports that the youths had been kidnapped.
On September 3, the Indian Army had provided food, warm clothes, and medical assistance to three Chinese who had lost their way in sub-zero temperatures in a border area in north Sikkim, at an altitude of 17,500 feet.
The Indian troops deployed in the area also guided these Chinese, including a woman, to return home. The Chinese expressed gratitude to India and the Indian Army for their prompt assistance.
India releases Chinese soldier who strayed at LAC
India in a goodwill gesture ensured the release of a Chinese soldier who had strayed inside Indian territory across the disputed zone of the Line of Actual Control.
The astray Chinese soldier was detained two days back in the Demchok sector in the disputed border in Eastern Ladakh.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) corporal had told Indian agencies that he had crossed the disputed border to retrieve a yak that had strayed into India.
He was handed over at Chushul Moldo meeting point on Tuesday night.
Earlier, the Indian Army in a statement said: “A PLA soldier identified as Corporal Wang Ya Long was apprehended in the Demchok sector of Eastern Ladakh on October 19, 2020 after he had strayed across the LAC.”
India had said that the PLA soldier has been provided medical assistance, including oxygen, food and warm clothes to protect him from the vagaries of extreme altitude and harsh climatic conditions.
“A request has also been received from the PLA about the whereabouts of the missing soldier,” Indian Army said.
It said that as per established protocols, he will be returned back to Chinese officials at the Chushul – Moldo meeting point after completion of formalities.
India and China have amassed thousands of soldiers, tanks and missiles in the worst-ever border crisis in four decades. Multiple rounds of talks between senior military commanders and diplomats and ministers have failed to resolve the crisis.
Winters are harsh in the Himalayas and soldiers face the prospect of braving sub-zero temperatures even upto minus 30 degrees Celsius.
Trump to hold 1st WH event after Covid-19 diagnosis
US President Donald Trump has planned to hold an event at the White House on Saturday, the first time since his October 2 announcement that he and the First Lady had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to media reports.
A White House official told The Hill news website on Friday that the President will address attendants of the event on the South Lawn from the Blue Room Balcony, suggesting that he will not be in close proximity to any one.
According to an invite obtained by ABC News, the event will feature “remarks to peaceful protesters for law and order” by the President.
Informed sources have said that the gathering is in conjunction with a previously planned event organized by controversial conservative activist Candace Owens’ group Blexit, a campaign to urge Black Americans to leave the Democratic Party.
“All attendees must bring a mask with them and will be instructed to wear it on the White House Complex,” one of the informed sources told ABC News.
“All attendees must submit to a Covid-19 screening tomorrow morning. This will consist of a temperature check and a brief questionnaire.
“The health and safety of all attendees is our priority and following CDC guidelines is strongly encouraged,” the source added.
Also on Friday, the Trump campaign announced that the President will hold a rally in Florida on October 12.
It was confirmed by the President in a tweet, saying: “Will be in Sanford, Florida on Monday for a very big rally.”
Reacting to the announcements of the White House event and also the Florida rally, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s deputy direct response coordinator Mike Gwin said that “Trump seems to be living in an alternate reality where he isn’t sick and contagious with Covid-19”.
“This decision is stunningly reckless and irresponsible, and it’s only the latest evidence that Trump has waved the white flag of defeat against this virus even as it kills thousands of Americans each week and batters our economy,” ABC News quoted Gwin as saying.
On Thursday, White House physician Sean Conley had said that Trump would be able to make a “safe return” to public events by Saturday, which marks 10 days since his Covid-19 diagnosis, and that he has responded “extremely well” to his treatment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that patients self-isolate for at least 10 days after the onset of symptoms from the coronavirus.
Donald Trump, wife Melania test Covid-19 positive
US President Donald Trump on Friday announced that he and his wife Melania have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for Covid-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this together,” he said in a tweet.
The next course of action for the President and the First Lady was not immediately clear as he has events scheduled for Friday in Florida and Saturday in Wisconsin.
The announcement came after White House adviser Hope Hicks, one of Trump’s closest aide, was confirmed to have tested positive for the virus on Thursday.
She had travelled with the President on Air Force One earlier this week, an informed source told The Hill news website.
After the revelation, Trump had tweeted: “Hope Hicks, who has been working so hard without even taking a small break, has just tested positive for Covid 19. Terrible.
“The First Lady and I are waiting for our test results. In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process.”
Also in a statement, a White House official said contact tracing has been done, “and the appropriate notifications and recommendations have been made”, The Hill news website reported.
Hicks is the latest White House aide to test positive for the virus which has so far infected 7,277,352 people in the US and killed 207,791 others, making it the worst-hit country in the world.
National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien had tested positive, as well as a White House valet who serves the President.
Katie Miller, the Vice President’s communications director and the wife of Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller, were also infected.
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