China on Friday deported the lone Indian arrested on unspecified charges in Inner Mongolia, bringing to an end 72 hours of intense negotiations between Indian diplomats and local officials who caught him allegedly watching banned videos with 19 other foreigners.
The fate of the remaining three South African citizens remains unknown.
On Friday night, RK Kulshreshta, a 46-year-old businessman, was put on a late flight and escorted by Indian officials from Ordos in Inner Mongolia in northern China. “We are trying to find out what the charges against him are,” an Indian official said.
“The Indian national who was detained in Inner Mongolia was brought to Beijing last evening and was allowed to leave for India by a flight in early hours of this morning,” a statement from the Indian embassy, said.
It added: “The Embassy of India was in close touch with concerned authorities in Beijing and Inner Mongolia, and facilitated the release and repatriation of the Indian national. Counsellor (Consular) and other Embassy officials were given consular access to him. Embassy officials were at the airport at the time of departure.”
On Friday evening, China had released five Britons, including two who also held South African citizenship.
Meanwhile, a statement released by a British-based spokesperson for two of the group, Hoosain Jacobs and Tahira Jacobs -- who hold dual UK and South African nationality but travelled with South African passports -- claims all the tourists have been released without charge.
It also said the detentions may have been made after an "unfortunate misunderstanding" concerning Genghis Khan, a 13th century Mongolian warrior hero who founded an empire from eastern Europe to the South China Sea.
"They watched a documentary on Genghis Khan to further their understanding of the region they were in at the time, and this may have mistakenly been deemed as 'propaganda' material," the statement said.
"It can only be assumed that junior officials who made the initial arrest in Inner Mongolia made a mistake, due to perhaps their unfamiliarity of the English language."
The group were on a "deluxe sight-seeing tour of China" which was expected to last 47 days, starting in the former British colony of Hong Kong and ending in the commercial hub of Shanghai, the statement said.
They were arrested 30 days into the tour, following a visit to the Genghis Khan Mausoleum at Ordos, it said, adding that those involved were aged between 33 and 74.
An official at Ordos's foreign affairs office told AFP Thursday that he understood the group "looked at and propagated something about violence and terrorism."
Resource-rich Inner Mongolia region sees sporadic protests by Mongols against government policies which include moving nomadic herders from grazing lands into towns, and vast coalmine development.
( with AFP inputs)