New Delhi: A Chinese soldier was apprehended by the Indian Army in the Demchok sector of Eastern Ladakh on Monday after he had “strayed” across the Line of Actual Control (LAC), an incident that comes amid a massive deployment of troops by the two militaries in the region following the border standoff.
The Indian Army said the soldier, a Corporal in the Chinese People”s Liberation Army(PLA), has been identified as Wang Ya Long and he will be returned to the Chinese military at the Chushul-Moldo border point after completion of formalities.
Government sources said it may take a couple of days to send the soldier back.
“A PLA soldier identified as Corporal Wang Ya Long was apprehended in the Demchok sector of Eastern Ladakh on October 19 after he had strayed across the LAC,” the Army said in a statement. A Chinese corporal is equivalent to a Naik in the Indian Army.
“The PLA soldier has been provided medical assistance including oxygen, food and warm clothes to protect him from the vagaries of extreme altitude and harsh climatic conditions,” it added.
Both Indian and Chinese armies have deployed over 50,000 troops each along the LAC in eastern Ladakh including in the Demchok sector following escalation of the five-month-long military standoff that began in early May.
“A request has also been received from the PLA about the whereabouts of the missing soldier. As per established protocols, he will be returned back to Chinese officials at the Chushul–Moldo meeting point after completion of formalities,” the Army said.
Sources said the PLA soldier has been kept at an Army formation and he was interrogated on how he crossed over to the Indian side.
In Beijing, state-run Global times quoted sources close to the matter as saying China and India are currently communicating on the issue and the two sides are moving towards a solution.
The incident will not cause new conflicts in the border areas, and solving the matter will also signal new progress in the bilateral negotiations, the sources said.
The incident occurred at a time when India and China are preparing to hold another round of Corps Commander-level military talks later this week with a focus on carrying forward their discussions on the disengagement process in Eastern Ladakh. The two sides have so far held seven rounds of high-level military talks on the border faceoff.
The seventh round of talks was held on October 12.
There was no breakthrough on the disengagement of troops from the friction points so far.
India has all along been maintaining that the onus is on China to carry forward the process of disengagement and de-escalation at the friction points in the mountainous region.
Following the sixth round of military talks, the two sides had announced a slew of decisions including not to send more troops to the frontline, refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground and avoid taking any actions that may further complicate matters.
This round was held with a specific agenda of exploring ways to implement a five-point agreement reached between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at a meeting in Moscow on September 10 on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO) conclave.
The pact included measures like quick disengagement of troops, avoiding action that could escalate tensions, adherence to all agreements and protocols on border management and steps to restore peace along the LAC
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