(Updates with Indian Army statement; paras. 1-4)
NEW DELHI / SHANGHAI, September 12 (Reuters) – Five Indian nationals from a remote eastern state who had been detained by Chinese authorities in a Tibet border region were handed over to Indian authorities on Saturday, the military said. Indian.
“Individuals will now be quarantined for 14 days according to the COVID-19 protocol and will then be handed over to their family members,” Lt. Col. Harsh Wardhan Pande, spokesman for the Indian army, said in a statement .
Pande said the five youths “inadvertently strayed” across the border foraging and hunting, adding that two more such incidents occurred this year in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. , which borders China.
However, a Chinese state-backed tabloid said the five were Indian intelligence operatives disguised as hunters, disputing allegations that they had been kidnapped.
Bilateral relations have been unusually strained since a clash in a disputed border area in June that killed 20 Indian soldiers, with an unknown number of Chinese casualties. L4N2E215E
On Tuesday, following reports that five Indians from Arunachal Pradesh state were missing, an Indian minister said the Chinese People’s Liberation Army confirmed they had been found in China.
Their disappearance coincided with a border clash that week in the western Himalayas, in which the two accused the other of shooting in the air.
Both sides have long observed a protocol avoiding the use of firearms at the undefined border, although violence has erupted in the past.
On Thursday, Chinese State Councilor Wang Yi and Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar met in Moscow and agreed to defuse border tensions.
Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin said on China’s Twitter-like Weibo app that China-India relations were stabilizing. Observers of China’s foreign relations often watch Hu’s social media posts to gauge the sentiment of Beijing policymakers.
“It appears that the successive meetings between Chinese and Indian defense ministers and foreign ministers have played a positive role in cooling the situation,” Hu wrote.
“In addition, the People’s Liberation Army defended every square inch of the country, and the Indian military ultimately failed to take advantage of it.”