'The past 10 days were a nightmare for us', says family of Abducted youth
The family members of the five Arunachalee youths who were released by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) will sleep peacefully tonight.
"We have been having sleepless nights since we received the news regarding the disappearance of our brothers in the jungle. The news got worse when we were told that they had crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and were taken by the Chinese army," Dadu Pading, the brother-in-law of Tanu Bakar, one of the missing youths told EastMojo.
"The past ten days were no less than a nightmare for us. All that we imagined till earlier today, was the condition they were kept in. The only thought of them stepping into a foreign land and later being taken into custody by the Chinese PLA has shaken us a lot. But we will finally at peace as they are in safe hands," Pading said.
Pading said the PLA took almost a month to return one of the youths who had crossed the LAC earlier in March, so they were not expecting their brothers to return before that timeframe.
"It took the Chinese around a month to hand over Togley Singkam in March. This time it was five people so we thought it would take more time. However, to our utter surprise they handed over our boys in just ten days," Dadu said.
21-year-old Singkam was allegedly abducted by the PLA from the Asapila sector of Upper Subansiri district in March this year. The PLA released him after 19 days.
"I have no words left with me to thank the Indian Government and Army for their efforts and also the Chinese PLA for their act of kindness," he added.
Prakash Ringling, the elder brother of Prasad Ringling, one of the other missing youth, said: "I would like to thank the Chinese government for releasing our youths keeping them safe and sound for the past ten days. The Chinese government has shown kindheartedness despite the ongoing tensions with India at Ladakh."
Ringling also thanked the Indian army and the Central and state government for the commitment and effort they put in to bring the youths back to Arunachal Pradesh.
The youths are presently with the Indian army at the Kibithu area of Anjaw district. They would be handed over to their families once they complete the 14-day quarantine period as per the Covid-19 protocols.
Union minister Kiren Rijiju who has been keeping a tab on the development since the day of the incident took to twitter earlier to announce the news.
"China's PLA has handed over our 5 boys to our side here at Kibitu area. I appreciate the 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," he tweeted.
Sports and Youth Affairs minister Rijiju who represents the Arunachal West seat in the Lok Sabha later informed that the youths were fit and fine.
"All the 5 Indian youths from Arunachal Pradesh who were received at Kibithu by our Army from PLA are fit and fine. However, they will be quarantined for a specified period. I also thank Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh ji for the concern he had shown," he said.
Chief Minister Pema Khandu also thanked the Indian Army and the Central government for securing the safe return of the youths.
"Absolutely glad to know that five of our Arunachali youths have been safely handed over to Indian Army by Chinese PLA. I am wholeheartedly thankful to the (Union) Govt and the Indian Army for their persistent effort in securing their return," Khandu said in his tweet.