The five youths who went missing from Arunachal Pradesh’s Upper Subansiri district last week were returned to Indian authorities by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Saturday, the Indian Army confirmed.

The individuals were handed over to the Indian side at Kibitu in Anjaw district after completing all formalities. As per COVID-19 protocol, they have been sent to quarantine for 14-days and will thereafter be handed over to their family members

“The Indian Army took over all five individuals at Kibitu on 12 September, 2020, after completing all the formalities. Individuals will now be quarantined for 14 days as per Covid-19 protocol and will thereafter be handed over to their family members,” a statement released by the Army read.

Union Minister Kiren Rijiju tweeted, “ 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.”

According to the Army, this was the third such instance of youths from the state living near the Indo-China border straying inadvertently to the other side of line of actual control (LAC). In all previous cases, the individuals were brought home safely.

“Indian Army has always been proactive in tracing the lost locals and helping them return home. Three such incidents took place in the current year in Upper Subansiri and West Siang district including the latest one,” the release said.

On Tuesday, the Army had received a communication from China about the whereabouts of the five youths who went missing from Upper Subansiri district. The PLA had conveyed that the youths were found by them across the Sino-Indian border.

The five youths belonging to the Tagin community inadvertently crossed over to the other side after they went for hunting and went missing on September 2 from the Indo-China border in Upper Subansiri district.

The development comes amid a border standoff along the LAC. The disappearance of the youths had added to the heightened tension between both countries.

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