The Arunachal Pradesh Police on Saturday said it has sent a team to a remote area near the India-China border in the Upper Subansiri district to "verify facts" about media reports that five men from the state have been allegedly kidnapped by the Chinese army amid growing tension between the two countries over a standoff in Ladakh.
Arunachal Times, a leading local newspaper, published a report on Saturday saying that five men from the Tagin community were picked up from the jungle near the town of Nacho while they were out hunting. The report was based on the account of a relative of one of the five men, who had claimed that they were kidnapped by the China's People's Liberation Army or PLA in a social media post that has been widely shared.
Although neither the Indian Army nor the Arunachal Pradesh government has so far officially confirmed the claims, the district police in Upper Subansiri said that a team has been sent to the remote area to find out the truth but they might only return on Sunday since the village is only assessable on foot.
"We got to know about the incident from media reports and social media post. We have discussed the matter with the police headquarters and we have dispatched a team led by the officer-in-charge of the Nacho police station to the area to verify the facts," Upper Subansiri's Superintendent of Police Taru Gussar told NDTV over phone.
"So far there has been no formal police complaint of this but since the matter is sensitive, we have sent our men to ascertain the facts with the villagers and relatives. In the past also such incidents have happened in these areas. We have taken this seriously," he said.
The Arunachal Times report also said that two other villagers who had accompanied the kidnapped men and managed to escape narrated the incident to the villagers.
Daporijo, the headquarters of Upper Subansiri districts of Arunachal Pradesh is 280 km from state capital Itanagar. The India-China border is about 170 km from Daporijo. The Nacho town from where the police team has been sent on foot to the forward area village, is 125 km away from Daporijo, but due to bad roads, it takes about six hours to reach.
Meanwhile, Member of Parliament from Arunachal East and top BJP leader Tapir Gao has tweeted saying, "5 Tagin youths have reportedly been abducted by China's #PLA from Sera7 area below the McMahon Line under Indian territory in Upper Subansiri in Arunachal since 3rd Sept. Similar incident happened in March. Time to take a stand against #CCP (Sic)".
Congress MLA from Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh and former Lok Sabha MP Ninong Ering had also shared posts by a social media user named Prakash Ringling who has claimed that his brother Prasad Ringling and four other young men - Toch Singkam, Dongtu Ebiya, Tanu Baker and Ngaru Diri, were "kidnapped" by China's PLA.
The incident comes close on the heels of another similar one when a 21-year-old man from Arunachal, Tongle Sinkam, was allegedly kidnapped on March 19, by the Chinese army after he had reportedly crossed over the McMohan Line to the Chinese side in search of herbs, He was handed over to the Indian Army after 14 days.