India alerts China after reports troops ‘kidnapped’ several civilians on Himalayan border

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India’s Minister of State for Minority Affairs Kiren Rijiju, who is also an MP for the northeastern border state of Arunachal Pradesh, said on Twitter that a “hotline message” had been sent by the Indian army to its Chinese counterparts following reports According to Indian media, five men hunting near the border were arrested by Chinese troops.

Keni Bagra, police superintendent of Upper Subansiri district in Arunachal Pradesh, told CNN that five people were reportedly missing, and the local community said the China People’s Liberation Army (PLA) “could have remove or kidnap them ”.

However, Bagra said relatives of the missing have not lodged a complaint or official report and that few “concrete details” were available.

“Since this incident occurred near the LAC, it is beyond the reach of the district administration or the police,” he added. “Local sources (family and friends) made this allegation – relatives said most likely the PLA army took them away. I sent the responsible officer to interact with the parents. They hesitate to talk about it. . ”

He said it was possible that the individuals crossed the border by accident. Arunachal Pradesh, with a population of around 1.4 million, is home to a number of minority groups, many of whom live near the disputed border in the foothills of the Himalayas.The Indian military did not respond to a request for comment. Speaking at a regular press conference on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said he was “unaware” of detentions at the border.

“China’s position on the eastern part of the China-India border… is consistent and clear,” he added. “We have never recognized the so-called Arunachal Pradesh, illegally established on Chinese territory. ”

The alleged detention of Indian citizens came as the country’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh met with his Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe in Moscow on Saturday on the sidelines of a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (OCS) in the Russian capital.

Tensions have risen again in the Himalayas as de-escalation efforts since a bloody clash between Indian and Chinese troops in June appear to be slowing.

At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the incident, the deadliest border conflict with China in more than 40 years. Meetings were immediately held between senior Chinese and Indian military officials, and both sides called for calm, but last week India and China accused each other of illegally crossing their territory, resulting in a new wave of saber-rattling on both sides. .

India and China share a 2,100-mile (3,379-kilometer) border in the Himalayas, but the two sides claim territory on either side of it, and don’t even agree on the exact location of the Real Line of Control (LAC), the de facto frontier that emerged from the Sino-Indian War of 1962.

The most recent dispute involved Pangong Tso, a strategically located lake that spans an area stretching from Indian territory of Ladakh to Chinese-controlled Tibet, in the Greater Kashmir region, where India, China and Pakistan claim. all a territory.

Arunachal Pradesh is at the other end of the Sino-Indian border, east of the independent kingdom of Bhutan.

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