The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has handed over the 5 Arunachalee youths who had crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to the Indian Army.

Defense officials told Northeast Now that the handing over ceremony took place at around 12.30 pm on Saturday at Kibithu near the Indo-Chinese border.

Located at around 590 km away from Itanagar, the state capital of Arunachal Pradesh, Kibithu is India’s easternmost motorable point.

The town, which falls under the Anjaw district, is uniquely located on the trijunction, with China to the north and Myanmar to the east.

“The Indian Army took over the custody of the five individuals at Kibithu on September 12 after completing all the formalities. The youths will now be quarantined for 14 days as per Covid-19 protocols and will be handed over to their family members thereafter,” Guwahati-based Defence PRO P Khongsai told Northeast Now.

Union sports minister Kiren Rijiju, who also represents the Arunachal West Lok Sabha constituency, has also confirmed that handing over of the 5 youths.

The Union minister has appreciated the Indian Army and thanked the Indian Army chief, his office and the local Army commanders.

“China’s PLA has handed over our 5 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,” Rijiju tweeted.

While sharing a picture of 5 youths, Rijiju in another tweet thanked Union defence minister Rajnath Singh for his concern over the issue.

The five youths had gone missing from the Indo-Sino border in the Upper Subansiri district on September 2.

They had reportedly gone for hunting in the Sera-7 area of Nacho, the last administrative circle along the McMahon Line from where they were allegedly abducted by the Chinese army.

Following the incident, the Indian Army had sent a hotline message to its Chinese counterpart, to which the latter had on September 08, responded and confirmed that the missing youths had been found on their side.

The Indian Army has always been proactive in tracing the lost locals and helping them return home, PRO Khongsai said.

The defence officer said three incidents of Indians crossing the LAC took place in the state this year, however, all the individuals were brought back home safely after consistent efforts and coordination by the Indian Army.

After concerns were raised by the Indian government about the “abduction”, the PLA on September 8 conveyed that the five youths were found by them across the border.

The five individuals will now be quarantined for 14 days as per COVID19 protocol and will thereafter be handed over to their family members.

Meanwhile, China’s state-owned Global Times has claimed that the five youths from Arunachal Pradesh were actually “intelligence personnel” sent to spy on China.

India, however, has already clarified that the youths are civilians from Arunachal Pradesh, who strayed while on a hunting trip.

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