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Indian traders shifted out of Yiwu; being taken to Shanghai

Source: PTI
January 04, 2012 19:26 IST
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Two Indian nationals, who were being held hostage for about 20 days in the Chinese trade hub of Yiwu, were on Wednesday shifted out of the town for safety by a team of Indian officials after intense negotiations. Shyamsunder Agrawal and Deek Raheja are out of Yiwu and on the way to Shanghai, said a top official the Indian embassy in Beijing.

The embassy official thanked the Chinese foreign ministry officials for prevailing on the local Yiwu administration to let the two to go out of the town for their safety even though they may have to face the court case regarding the payments due to the Chinese merchants from their company. It is not clear yet whether the two hailing from Mumbai will stay put in Shanghai but for the time being they were released from the hotel in Yiwu, which was surrounded by groups of angry Chinese traders who abducted them. However, the duo cannot leave China as their travel documents have been impounded by the court in Yiwu in connection with the case.

The Chinese traders were unwilling to let them go asserting that their company owed million of Yuan for the products bought from them and they will be permitted to leave only after payments are made. Their case has become a diplomatic row of sorts between India and China after an Indian diplomat, S Balachandran fainted in Yiwu court while trying to secure their release on December 31. He is recovering in a hospital in Shanghai.

The Chinese government however denied any ill-treatment of the diplomat.

"Relevant reports saying that Indian consular officer was forbidden to take food and medicine and was besieged during his stay in Yiwu were not true" Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei told a media briefing in Beijing. "I want to stress that China is a country under the rule of law and China attaches great importance to China-India relations.

"Relevant departments always maintain lawful rights and interests of Indians in China in accordance with law," he said.

Meanwhile, China on Wednesday promised adequate safety to Indian nationals there as it initiated criminal proceedings against five locals suspected of being involved in the act. The assurance was given by Chinese Ambassador to India Zhang Yan during his separate meeting with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and a senior official of the ministry, after which the Indian side expressed satisfaction at the steps taken. "I had detailed discussion with your foreign minister. The Chinese government attaches great importance to this matter. We are working very hard to find a solution to this issue and to resolve it as early as possible," Zhang told reporters in New Delhi after his meeting with Krishna.

The two Indians were put up in a hotel during the past two days under police security and Raheja told PTI earlier that the hotel was surrounded by group of Chinese traders who abducted them. Though the court ordered their release on December 31, the traders refused to let them go. They literally snatched them as they clung on to the diplomat to leave with him for Shanghai.

In the process, Balachandran fainted and was rushed to a hospital with injuries. The two were kidnapped by Chinese merchants on December 15 after the owner of the company to which they work for reportedly fled without clearing large sums of money owed to the local suppliers.

The two alleged torture and brutal treatment during the custody and pleaded with the Indian consulate in Shanghai to get them released from the illegal custody. Raheja had even threatened to commit suicide if the Indian officials did not take them out of the trading city.

The breakthrough came after prolonged negotiations as Indian Ambassador to China, S Jaishankar, who was away in India on leave and returned on Wednesday.

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