A parliamentarian from India’s ruling party has accused China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of abducting a teenager from the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh.
Tapir Gao, a member of parliament belonging to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on Wednesday told reporters that Miram Taron, 17, a resident of Zido village in Arunachal Pradesh’s Upper Siang district had been “abducted” on Tuesday.
Gao said the incident happened in the Siyungla area of Bishing, the last Indian village on the India-China border along the left bank of Siang River in Arunachal Pradesh.
“Chinese #PLA has abducted Miram Taron, 17 years of Zido vill. yesterday 18th Jan 2022 from inside Indian territory, Lungta Jor area (China built 3-4 kms road inside India in 2018) under Siyungla area (Bishing village) of Upper Siang dist, Arunachal Pradesh,” Gao tweeted on Wednesday.
Chinese #PLA has abducted Sh Miram Taron, 17 years of Zido vill. yesterday 18th Jan 2022 from inside Indian territory, Lungta Jor area (China built 3-4 kms road inside India in 2018) under Siyungla area (Bishing village) of Upper Siang dist, Arunachal Pradesh. pic.twitter.com/ecKzGfgjB7
— Tapir Gao (@TapirGao) January 19, 2022
Indian media reports quoting Gao said Taron had gone hunting with his friend Johnny Yaying, 27, in Bising when he was abducted. Yaying escaped and informed the residents in their village of the abduction, the politician said.
“His [Taron’s] friend escaped from PLA and reported [the incident] to the authorities,” Gao said in another tweet. “All the agencies of government of India [are] requested to step up for his early release.”
Shashvat Saurabh, deputy commissioner of Upper Siang, told Al Jazeera on Thursday that two people had been hunting near Bishing circle when the incident happened on January 18.
“There were these two boys and one of the two boys was reportedly captured by the PLA,” he said, adding that the district administration was in touch with army officials over the matter.
“They are working on it,” he said. “We will try to get him back as soon as possible.
Another district official told Al Jazeera they are of the view that the incident happened on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), a loosely demarcated 3,500km (2,100-mile) de facto border agreed by the two nations following a full-scale war in 1962.
“Our assumption is that it (site of alleged abduction) is on our side, not on the other side. They had gone for hunting which is very common (among the locals),” said Jummar Basar, superintendent of police for Upper Siang.
“Hunting is common but this kind of abduction is not common,” Basar said.
On Thursday, a defence spokesperson based in Assam state’s Tezpur said the Indian Army has established contact with the PLA to help in locating and returning the individual. The spokesperson said the teenager was “captured” across the LAC.
“17 yr old youth Miram Tarom of #Zido #ArunachalPradesh was reportedly captured by #PLA across the LAC. On receipt of info, #IndianArmy imdtly contacted #PLA through #hotline. Assistance from #PLA has been sought to locate & return him as per protocol (sic),” a tweet by the army spokesperson said.
17 yr old youth Miram Tarom of #Zido #ArunachalPradesh was reportedly captured by #PLA across the LAC. On receipt of info, #IndianArmy imdtly contacted #PLA through #hotline. Assistance from #PLA has been sought to locate & return him as per protocol. pic.twitter.com/aq1Pv1K0RG
— PRO Defence Tezpur (Assam/Arunachal Pradesh) (@ProAssam) January 20, 2022
The issue has also turned political, with Rahul Gandhi, a leader of India’s main opposition Congress party, attacking Prime Minister Modi over his “silence” on the incident.
“PM’s cowardly silence is his statement – he doesn’t care,” Gandhi tweeted on Thursday. “We are with the family of Miram Taron and we will not give up hope. We will not give up.”
This is not the first instance of alleged abduction of an Indian national by the PLA.
In 2020, there were at least two such incidents. In March that year, a man from Upper Subansiri in Arunachal Pradesh was allegedly taken into custody by the PLA and released the following month.
In the second incident in September, a group of five men on a hunting trip was allegedly whisked away by the PLA in the same area. They were handed back to the Indian authorities later that month, with an army spokesperson saying the group had “strayed across LAC”.
The same month, the Indian Army said it had handed over 13 yaks that had strayed over in East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh, to China.
China has long claimed the northeastern Indian border state of Arunachal Pradesh as part of its South Tibet region and has begun to assert its military power there.
In its annual report to the US Congress on the Chinese military, the Pentagon said China has built a large village in a disputed area in Arunachal Pradesh and has been taking incremental action to press its claims on the LAC.
Tensions between the two nuclear-armed Asian superpowers are at their highest since an uneasy ceasefire was agreed to in 1962. Much of the LAC has not been delimited following the war and skirmishes are regularly reported.
In the summer of 2020, the Indian army and the PLA were engaged in a military standoff along the LAC in the Ladakh region of Indian-administered Kashmir. The two sides accused each other of trespassing.
The standoff turned deadly in June that year when 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese soldiers were killed in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley in rare hand-to-hand combat with clubs and rocks.