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China responds to Indian Army's hotline message, confirms 5 missing Arunachal youth on their side

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New Delhi, Sep 08: Amid growing tension between India and China over the border issue, Beijing on Tuesday confirmed that the missing youths from Arunachal Pradesh have been found by their side.

Taking to twitter Union Minister Kiren Rijiju posted, "China's PLA has responded to the hotline message sent by Indian Army. They have confirmed that the missing youths from Arunachal Pradesh have been found by their side."

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"Further modalities to handover the persons to our authority is being worked out," he added.

The five villagers from the Nacho area of Upper Subansiri district who were part of a 7-member group which went for hunting in a jungle were reported missing by their families through social media last Friday.

China had earlier brushed off concerns over the whereabouts of the five youths and needled India, saying it has never recognised the northeastern state which it claims is part of south Tibet.

'China's position on the east sector of the China-India boundary, or Zangnan (the southern part of China's Xizang (Tibet) ), is consistent and clear,' Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a media briefing in Beijing, adding the Chinese government has never recognized the so-called 'Arunachal Pradesh'.

'I'm not aware of the situation you mentioned,' the spokesperson said when asked about any updates about the missing Indian nationals. The All Arunachal Pradesh Students' Union (AAPSU) condemned the Chinese statement dubbing the state as part of 'South Tibet'.

The development comes at a time when the Indian army has enhanced its deployment along the 3,400 km-long Line of Actual Control(LAC) in view of the tense border row between India and China in eastern Ladakh.

In March, a 21-year-old man was abducted by the PLA from Asapila sector near the McMahon line. While his two friends managed to escape, Togley Sinkam was taken away at gunpoint, his family had said. After 19 days in captivity, the youth was released by the Chinese army.

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