NEW DELHI: People and planes often get lost in the mountainous forests of Arunachal Pradesh. Last year, it was an Air Force aircraft. Days ago, it was a group of boys from the town of Nacho. Seven of them had gone into uncharted forests near the LAC. Only two came back. After a long week of anxious distress calls by the families, denial by China and confirmation by India, the five youths finally returned home on Saturday.
“The borders are not demarcated well. We are hunters, we move around a lot. We cant say which side is which. Kabhi kabhi nikal jaata hai log, aur PLA waala leke chala jaata hai (sometimes people stray and PLA takes them away),” Prakash Ringling, whose post on Facebook had drawn attention to the missing boys, had told TOI on Friday. His brother Prasad who had just passed his Class X boards, cousins Tanu Bakar and Ngaru Diri, Dongtu Ebiya and Toch Singkam were among seven who had gone hunting and foraging in the deep forests of northern Arunachal when they disappeared.
“Two others, Tabu and Tate, had made it back. Thats how we got to know they had been detained by the PLA,” he said.
The five youths, who have now been handed over to India by the Chinese army, will be placed under 14-day quarantine as per Covid-19 protocols before they can return to their family members, a defence spokesperson said in a statement.
"Arunachal Pradesh is known for its rich natural heritage and adventurous people fond of exploring the nature for medicinal herbs and possessing traditional flair for hunting which involves surviving off the land for weeks in jungles and far-flung remote areas. During such adventurous forays, at times youth have inadvertently strayed to other side of LAC," said the statement.
The defence spokesperson said the Indian Army has always been proactive in tracing the lost locals and helping them return home.
"Three such incidents took place in the current year in Upper Subansiri and West Siang District including the latest one. All such individuals were brought back home safely after consistent efforts and coordination by the Indian Army in the past," the statement said.
Tania Doyom, a friend of Ebiya, had told TOI about a similar incident earlier this year when a youth was detained by China for nearly a month.
“They were within India, as far as we know. They would go often that way, we dont know what happened that day … We are from the Tagin community. Many hunters and forest gatherers move in those areas freely,” he said. “Some time ago, there was also that other boy, from our area, who had been detained by China,” he added, referring to the nearly month-long detention of another youth frRead More – Source