India has detained a Chinese soldier in the Demchok sector in eastern Ladakh from Indian territory. According to the protocols followed by the armies of the two nations, he will be handed back to China at the Chushul–Moldo meeting point after completion of formalities.
The soldier, who holds the rank of a corporal, is being questioned to establish whether he was on an espionage mission. At times when the two nations are on the verge of war, with tens of thousands of heavily armed troops eyeball to eyeball in certain sectors, this episode is being viewed seriously. For the first time in over five decades, bloodshed took place on the border this June when the Chinese soldiers attacked Indians on the Galwan Valley border with iron-studded rods and primitive tools.
The Indian Army issued a statement on the issue: “A PLA soldier identified as Corporal Wang Ya Long was apprehended in the Demchok sector of Eastern Ladakh on October 19, 2020 after he had strayed across the LAC.” The soldier reportedly told Indian agencies that he crossed the disputed border to retrieve a yak that had strayed into Indian territory.
The Indian Army said the Chinese 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. Winters have set in on the Himalayas and the soldiers of the two countries face the prospect of braving extremely hostile temperatures—30 degrees below zero degree Celsius. In such conditions, Indian soldiers have had a better experience as they have been facing hostile conditions on the Siachen Glacier as well. The Chinese PLA are not used to such harsh conditions in the Himalayan region.
“A request has also been received from the PLA about the whereabouts of the missing soldier,” the Indian Army said.
The Indians and Chinese have had multiple rounds of talks at senior levels of military commanders and diplomats besides their foreign and defence ministers having met in Russia to resolve the crisis.