5 Indians who strayed across LAC were spies, says Chinese media ahead of their release
The five civilian porters from the Tagin tribe of Arunachal Pradesh went missing earlier in September.Updated: Sep 12, 2020, 17:02 IST
Five Indians who had strayed over the border in Arunachal Pradesh earlier this month and were detained by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were working for the Indian intelligence, a state media report said on Saturday, hours ahead of their release by the Chinese army.
The five civilian porters from the Tagin tribe of Arunachal Pradesh went missing in early September.
Union minister Kiren Rijiju and the Indian army have repeatedly said that the five were porters and worked for the armed forces to carry and transport goods for troops stationed in the Indian side of Line of Actual Control (LAC) or the McMahon Line in Upper Subansiri in Arunachal Pradesh, which separates it from China’s Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
On Saturday, Rijiju tweeted: “China’s PLA has handed over our five boys to our side here at Kibitu area. I appreciate Indian Army for the smooth return of our citizens. I thank Indian Army Chief, his office and the local Commanders for constantly following up the matter and regularly updating me on the matter.”
The Hindustan Times has reached out to the Chinese foreign ministry for details of the case.
Ahead of their release, state-run nationalistic tabloid, Global Times claimed in a report that five were “spies” working for the Indian army.
The five had disguised themselves as “hunters”, the report said, quoting an anonymous source, adding that they were “India’s intelligence staff”.
“They recently trespassed the China-India border and entered the Shannan prefecture of Tibet,” the report said.
“The Indian side often sends staff via this means to gather intelligence of China. This is how it encroaches China-controlled areas,” the report said, adding: “The Chinese side has detained, warned and educated the five persons, who will be released soon”.
China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of south Tibet.
“The Chinese side has detained, warned and educated the five persons, who will be released soon,” the report said.
“China and India have a very long border and there are vast stretches that are unguarded. In recent years, India has taken an aggressive approach in China-India border areas, which poses a challenge for China to strengthen its border control,” it added.
On September 7, when asked about the whereabouts of the five missing Indians, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said: “China’s position on the eastern sector of the China-India boundary, or Zangnan--the southern part of China’s Xizang (Tibet), is consistent and clear. The Chinese government has never recognized the so-called ‘Arunachal Pradesh’ illegally established on the Chinese territory. I’m not aware of the situation you mentioned.”