The Indian army had asked China over the weekend whether the missing Indians were in the custody of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)
China on Monday shrugged off the Indian army’s concern over five missing civilians in Arunachal Pradesh, saying Beijing has never recognised the state which it claims is part of south Tibet.
The Indian army had asked China over the weekend whether the missing Indians were in the custody of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
“China’s position on the eastern section of the China and India boundary and China’s southern Tibet is consistent and clear. We have never recognised the so-called Arunachal Pradesh illegally established on the Chinese territory,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian said Monday at the regular ministry briefing.
“Regarding the specifics, you mentioned I am not aware of it now,” Zhao said responding to a query about the missing Indians.
The Indian Army had contacted its Chinese counterpart about the five missing civilians, who were engaged as guides and porters by the Indian army in the Upper Subansiri district on the Sino-India border, on Saturday.
Those allegedly kidnapped have been identified as Toch Singkam, Prasat Ringling, Dongtu Ebiya, Tanu Baker and Ngaru Diri. They had gone hunting in a jungle when they were allegedly kidnapped by the PLA.
In February, China had strongly objected to home minister Amit Shah’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, saying the visit had violated its territorial sovereignty and “sabotaged” mutual trust with India.
China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of south Tibet and routinely, and sharply, criticises the visit of any Indian official visiting the region.
In November, the Chinese foreign ministry had similarly slammed Indian defence minister, Rajnath Singh’s visit to the state to review the security situation in the frontier border region.
Relations between India and China have hit a multi-decade low since clashes in Ladakh in June that killed 20 Indian soldiers. Both sides have since stepped up monitoring of their largely unsettled 3,488 km border.
“We spoke with them (the PLA) on the hotline and told them that it’s suspected that some people have crossed across to your side and we will be grateful if you could hand them over back, as per what we do normally,” Lieutenant Colonel Harsh Wardhan Pande, an Indian Army spokesperson, told news agency Reuters.
“There is no earmarked line going through the forest or the mountains, so they keep moving here and there. So they might have gone there. It’s a very normal thing,” he said, adding they were yet to hear back from the Chinese.