Two Indians, who were released from illegal detention of local traders in the eastern Chinese city of Yiwu and brought to Shanghai, have undergone health check-ups after suffering "multiple injuries" and "trauma" in captivity.
"We suffered multiple injuries besides trauma during our detention in Yiwu by the local traders and had check-ups done for multiple injuries," Deepak Raheja, one of the two men, told PTI over phone on Thursday.
The medical check-ups were arranged by the Indian Consulate in Shanghai. Raheja and the other Indian businessman Shyamsunder Agrawal were currently put up in an undisclosed hotel at Shanghai by the Indian Consulate after they were released from Yiwu on Wednesday. It was not known how long they could stay there.
Both of them had a lengthy meeting with the Consulate officials on Thursday to discuss their case and future. They had been told to confine themselves to the hotel in the interest of their safety, Raheja said.
"We are safe for the time being but our future is uncertain," he said. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a media briefing in Beijing on Thursday that the two had the freedom to move about even when they were put up in a hotel at Yiwu.
"China is a country under rule of rule. Attaching great importance to friendly relations between China and India, China always safeguards the lawful rights of all foreigners, including the Indian citizens in China," Hong said replying to a question about their release.
They are free to move in China but cannot travel out of the country as their passports have been impounded by the local court in Yiwu.
The two say they were employees of a company called Euro Global Trading, which bought supplies worth millions of yuan from Chinese traders based in Yiwu, the world's largest commodities trading hub.
They say they got into trouble after the owner of the company Maheer Hussain Bazara, a Yemenese national, vanished along with an Indian partner Feroze Khan. Both say they have no idea where they are.
Raheja, who was a resident of Dubai, said Bazara and Khan had vanished on December 14 without any trace. "There was no hint. Our salaries were coming in time. We have no idea until the traders raided our office on the night of December 14 and took us into custody," he said.
"They let off two Chinese staff and held us hostage and tortured and ill-treated," according to Raheja.
Apparently Bazara was seen on December 14 and made some payments. It now appears that the two Indians have to face legal proceedings in a Yiwu court as they signed several documents, which they claim they had done under duress.
Beyond arranging legal help and security, few options were left for Indian officials as it was a trade dispute. The Chinese government assert that it was a trade dispute concerning individuals and launched criminal proceedings against five local traders for abducting the Indians.A Chinese state-run daily on Thursday alleged that the Indian diplomat, who had collapsed in a court last Saturday, had tried to "secretly" take away two detained Indian nationals under the "pretence of going to the toilet".
Reports that Indian diplomat, S Balachandran from Consulate in Shanghai fainted after being denied food and medicines and manhandled were "wrong", a report in the Global Times website said.
"The reports distorted the facts, and no injuries actually happened", it quoted an official with the local Yiwu government as saying.
The two Indians Shaymsunder Agrawal and Deepak Raheja refused to pay more than 10 million yuan (84 crores) for goods they had received, the official said.
The were kidnapped on December 15 by Chinese traders at Yiwu.
"During the interval at the hearing, the diplomat planned to take away the two Indians secretly under the pretence of going to the toilet. "But they were stopped by suppliers at the court's exit," the report said.
When the officials arrived, they found the diplomat sitting on the ground and claiming that he had been beaten. But physical checks afterwards showed no signs of a beating, the Times report said quoting sources.
On Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Hong Lei had refuted reports that the diplomat was denied access to food and water in the court.
"The reports did not tally with the facts," he had told a media briefing. Both Agrawal and Raheja have been taken out of the hotel in Yiwu by Indian officials with the help of Chinese police and are currently lodged at a hotel in Shanghai.
Lou Zhongping, chairman of the Household Articles Chamber of Commerce with the China Commodity City of Yiwu, said scams involving not paying for goods after they are received are not rare.
"Many suppliers are cautious about that and are discussing measures to prevent and punish those swindlers," Lou told the Global Times. The newspaper report said an Indian citizen fled without paying 16 million yuan to 145 goods suppliers in Yiwu in December last.
In another case, two Indians took away goods valued at 2.8 million yuan without payment, it said. Also the advisory issued by the Indian Embassy cautioning Indian businessmen to stay out of doing business at Yiwu was criticised in the Times report.
"Such warnings are not rational. Neither side wished to see unpleasant incidents. I hope India deals with the case with a calmer and wiser attitude," it quoted Ma Jiali, a Chinese analyst on Indian related issues from the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, as saying.
It also quoted some Indian businessmen at Yiwu wanting to stay back to continue their trade there. Yiwu, home to China's largest commodity market, has attracted about 130,000 foreign businessmen, including 5,000 from South Korea and over 100 from India, according to the overseas Chinese and foreign affairs office of Yiwu.
"There is little concern that the scandal will deter other traders from coming to the city with its potential opportunities and good services.
"Besides, we have been making efforts to improve the market and living environment," Gong Ximing, an official with the office, told the Times noting that a new centre offering one-stop services for all foreign traders and businessmen opened Wednesday in Yiwu.