Five men from Arunachal Pradesh, who went missing after they strayed across the China border have been handed over to the Indian Army by the People’s Liberation Army of China. The men were handed over in the Chinese territory and they entered India through the Kibithu border post in the afternoon.

“Individuals will now be quarantined for 14 days as per COVID-19 protocol and will thereafter be handed over to their family members,” the army said in a statement.

According to the Indian Army, the five men who had been missing since September 1 were hunters. However, locals and their families said they were porters.

“As a result of persistent efforts of Indian Army, five missing hunters from Indian side of LAC in Upper Subansiri, who had inadvertently crossed over to other side on 2 September 2020, were traced. Chinese Army on September 8 responded on hotline and confirmed that the missing Indians have been found on their side,” the army stated.

The five men used to work as porters for the Indian Army. They went missing on September 2 from Sera-7 in the Upper Subansiri district.

The Indian Army contacted the PLA through a hotline message, responding to which they said that the youths were found on their side and they are fine.

The army and ITBP use locals as porters, guides and scouts. According to NDTV sources, locals after dropping off cargo usually go to higher altitudes to collect gumba, a medicinal herb or hunt for musk deer. Both the items are sold at high prices in the international grey market.