17-year-old Miriam Taron is still having “nightmares” of the over 200 hours he had to spend in Chinese PLA custody since January 18 when he was captured near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Upper Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh.
Miriam was reunited with his family in the Zido village under the Tuting circle – the area is one of the last settlements on the Indian side, a few miles away from the LAC. Although he has returned home healthy, his father Opang Taron said that Miriam is still having “a bit of trauma” from his “ordeal”. Over 200 hours of being blindfolded and the constant fear of being “harmed and killed” had haunted him during his captivity, his father had claimed. He was also handcuffed, he added.
“My son was captured from an area which we consider to be our Indian territory, at best it can be called a no man’s land, but they never crossed into Chinese territory. Indian Army has put some marks in the area and my boy or his friend never crossed it. So, it was the Chinese PLA who actually came in,” Mr Taron asserted.
The father said that Miriam was captured in the evening on January 18 after 6 PM at gunpoint. “He told me that he was immediately blindfolded and tried to escape but could not since there were more than a dozen PLA troopers surrounding him. His hands were tied up at that time. Maybe they thought him to be a spy or whatever, so they pushed him and hit him as well. He also tried a bit of retaliation, he told me he pushed a Chinese soldier. After that, they used mild electric spark through a piece of lighter type equipment. He could not see it but he could feel it. The next day he was not tortured, at least as per what he narrated to us,” Opang Taron told NDTV.
The area from where Miriam was captured was the same area in Tuting circle where the Chinese Army had entered in 2018 with road construction equipment and were trying to build road 3-4 km inside India when the locals and Indian Army objected and that led to a standoff until the Chinese backed off. The area is beyond the Bishing village (the last Indian village near LAC). Locally, the area is known as Siyunla-Lungthazor.
“We have a customary ritual where we go for hunting and then dry the meat of our hunt and give it to the family of our sisters. My son and the other youth had gone hunting. This has been our customary practice, there is nothing wrong in this,” the father added.
“My son has, however, narrated that he was fed well, mostly meat. Also, since it is very cold, it really kept him warm. They removed his blond fold near the Kibithu border before his hand over,” he further added.
Miriam was handed over to India almost 500 km away from where he was captured, at the Damai border point.
“Neither my son nor the Chinese could communicate with each other. The language barrier was such that when he tried to explain that he is not a spy but a boy who is out for traditional hunting, they did not understand a word. They did try to bring in a local tribal language interpreter, my son has narrated, but it didn’t work,” Mr Taron said.