A Chinese soldier caught by the Indian Army in eastern Ladakh on Monday won't be released ''for the next few days,'' sources said today. The soldier, Corporal Wang Ya Long, was caught in Demchok. He is being questioned by China experts before being handed back to the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), the sources said.
The soldier had strayed across the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the army had said yesterday, and would be returned to the Chinese Army "as per established protocol after following due procedure".
The army's statement also said the soldier had been provided medical assistance, including oxygen, food and warm clothes, "to protect him from the vagaries of extreme altitude and harsh climatic conditions".
The Chinese army had asked about the whereabouts of the missing soldier, the army said, adding that he would be returned at the Chushul-Moldo meeting point.
Some reports suggested that the soldier was carrying civil and military documents when he was caught.
A Chinese officer, in a statement last night, said the soldier "got lost while helping local herdsmen retrieve a yak".
"The PLA border troops informed the Indian military right after the incident and hoped the Indian side would aid in search and rescue, and the Indian side promised to offer help and return the missing soldier timely after finding him," Senior Colonel Zhang Shuili, spokesperson for the Western Theater Command of the PLA, said.
"We hope that the Indian side will live up to its promise to hand over the missing Chinese soldier as soon as possible and implement the consensus reached by the two sides in the 7th round of Senior Commanders meeting, so as to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas," Zhang added.
Indian and Chinese soldiers have been locked in a confrontation at the LAC, or the de-facto border between the countries, in eastern Ladakh since May. On June 15, 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the line of duty in a clash with the Chinese at Galwan Valley. Last month, shots were fired in the air more than once as the two armies came face-to-face at Pangong Tso.
Several rounds of military and diplomatic talks between the two sides have yet to yield a solution, with the Chinese refusing to adhere to agreements on restoring status quo.