This Article is From Sep 07, 2020

"Yet To Receive Any Response From China": Army On 5 Missing Arunachal Men

A tweet by Global Times, a Chinese state-run media publication, quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian as saying there were no details to release

China reportedly said it does recognise "so-called Arunachal Pradesh"

There is still no information about the five men reported missing from an area near the McMahon Line (the imaginary line that acts as the border with China), the Arunachal Pradesh government said Monday, adding that it was closely monitoring the situation and that district officials had been directed to provide all necessary help and aid.

Amid claims - by the families of the missing men and locals - that they have been abducted by China, the Army has also sent a "hotline" message asking if PLA (People's Liberation Army) troops in the area have seen the men.

The Chinese have not yet answered the "hotline" message.

However, a tweet by Global Times, a Chinese state-run media publication, quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian as saying there were no details to release. He also reportedly said China did not recognise "so-called Arunachal Pradesh", which he called "China's south Tibet region".

"We have yet to receive any response from the Chinese side. On Saturday the "hotline" was activated to inform the Chinese Army about these missing youth. Our reconnaissance teams are always in that area (and) they looking out," Lt Col Harshwardhan Pande, a Defence spokesperson, told NDTV.

Meanwhile, police teams have been sent to the villages from which the five men hail to get more details.

"We are trying to ascertain the facts. We are talking to two youth (part of a group of seven) who returned to Nacho (the town nearest to the villages) to report the incident. We are also talking to the families," Taru Gussar, the Superintendent of Police (Upper Subansiri District) told NDTV over the phone.

Mr Gussar told NDTV there were instances in the past when people inadvertently crossed the McMahon Line. "Thus, we are trying to gather more information (and) once we get feedback from the Army recce teams we will have more clarity," he added.

No formal police complaint has been filed so far.

On Saturday a leading local newspaper published a report claiming five men from the Tagin community, who lived in villages near the town of Nacho (a small town that is the last administrative circle near the McMahon Line in Upper Subansiri), had been abducted. They were out hunting in the jungles at the time of the alleged abduction, the newspaper report claimed.

Police sources said the men likely went missing on September 1; local Army outposts were made aware the following day since the area is near a patrol route that runs along the McMahon line.

The families of the five men say they were part of a team of part-time porters who had gone to an Army forward post in the last week of August. On their return, the families claim, they visited an area of the jungle (considered traditional land belonging to the Tagin community) to collect herbs.

It was from here, the families claim, that the Chinese allegedly abducted them.

This area is believed to more than 12 km inside Indian territory, locals said.

Sources in the Army, however, have refuted claims the missing men were porters.