The eight foreigners who were arrested on Tuesday evening turned out to be Taiwanese, and not Chinese as claimed earlier. Coming barely a month after Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama expressed fears of a Chinese plot to kill him, the arrests had initially alarmed security agencies.
The men, charged with violating visa norms, were arrested from an under-construction building at Chauntra village in Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi after the IB tipped off the police. The team has recovered Rs. 30 lakh in cash, $3,000, mobile phones and five SIM cards of Indian telecom operators from them.
Quashing initial reports that claimed the men were Chinese spies, additional superintendent of police RS Jamwal said on Wednesday that the men were actually Taiwanese.
Police sources said the goof-up happened because of the similarity in the official names of the countries — Taiwan’s official name is Republic of China, whereas China’s official name is People’s Republic of China.
Sources said the men had tourist visas and were working as carpenters and painters for a building that allegedly belongs to a Sikkim-based Tibetan spiritual leader, Gangkar Rinpoche.
Police are questioning Rinpoche in the matter.
Jamwal said they were booked under the Foreigners Act, as they had not registered themselves with local authorities. The foreigners were sent to three-day police remand.
While seeking a probe by central and state agencies, CM Prem Kumar Dhumal said, “I have been cautioning the Centre about increased Chinese activities along the border and intrusions of air space in Kinnaur.”
Meanwhile, union home minister P Chidamabaram said in Ahmedabad it was too early to give any official version.
(With PTI inputs)