Keni Bagra, superintendent of police for Upper Subansiri district in Arunachal Pradesh, told CNN that five people had reportedly gone missing, with talk among the local community that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) “may have abducted or kidnapped them.”
However, Bagra said that relatives of the missing individuals had not filed a formal complaint or report, and little “concrete details” were available.
“Since that incident occurred near the LAC, it is beyond the reach of district administration or the police,” he added. “The local sources (family and friends) have made that allegation — the relatives said that most probably the PLA army has taken them away. I have sent the officer in-charge to interact with the relatives. They are reluctant to talk about this.”
He said it was possible the individuals may have wandered across the border by accident. Arunachal Pradesh, which has a population of roughly 1.4 million, is home to a number of minority groups, many of whom live close to the disputed border in the foothills of the Himalayas.
An Indian army spokesperson said there was “nothing to share” on the subject when approached by CNN. Speaking at a regular press conference Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that he was “not aware” of any detentions on the border.
“China’s position on the east section of the China-India boundary … is consistent and clear,” he added. “We have never recognized the so-called Arunachal Pradesh, illegally established on Chinese territory.”
The most recent dispute was around Pangong Tso, a strategically located lake which spans an area stretching from the Indian territory of Ladakh to Chinese-controlled Tibet, in the greater Kashmir region, where India, China and Pakistan all claim territory.
Arunachal Pradesh is at the other end of the Sino-Indian border, to the east of the independent kingdom of Bhutan.