PLA Soldier Who Strayed Across LAC in Eastern Ladakh Handed Back to Chinese Army

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A Chinese army soldier who had strayed across the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh to the Indian side has been handed back to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the Indian Army said early on Wednesday.

The army said that the PLA soldier, identified as Corporal Wang Ya Long, was returned at the Chushul-Moldo border point on Tuesday night. A Chinese corporal is equivalent to a Naik in the Indian Army.

Corporal Wang had been apprehended by the Indian Army in the Demchok sector of eastern Ladakh on Monday after he had "strayed" across the LAC amid massive deployment of troops by the two militaries in the region following the border standoff since May.

A spokesperson for the Western Theater Command of the PLA said in a statement on Monday night that the corporal “got lost in China-India border areas on the evening of October 18 when helping local herdsmen retrieve a yak at their request”.

The Indian Army had said that the Chinese soldier was provided medical assistance, including oxygen, food and warm clothes, soon after he was apprehended.

The incident occurred at a time when India and China are preparing to hold another round of Corps Commander-level military talks later this week with a focus on carrying forward their discussions on the disengagement process in eastern Ladakh. The two sides have so far held seven rounds of high-level military talks on the border faceoff. The seventh round of talks was held on October 12.

There was no breakthrough on the disengagement of troops from the friction points so far. India has all along been maintaining that the onus is on China to carry forward the process of disengagement and de-escalation at the friction points in the mountainous region.

Following the sixth round of military talks, the two sides had announced a slew of decisions including not to send more troops to the frontline, refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground and avoid taking any actions that may further complicate matters. This round was held with a specific agenda of exploring ways to implement a five-point agreement reached between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at a meeting in Moscow on September 10 on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) conclave.

The pact included measures like quick disengagement of troops, avoiding action that could escalate tensions, adherence to all agreements and protocols on border management and steps to restore peace along the LAC.