Shimla: In a major embarrassment for the Himachal Pradesh government, eight men who were arrested for illegally staying in India have turned out to be Taiwanese and not Chinese as claimed by the government earlier.
Eight men, between the ages of 20 to 40, were arrested Tuesday evening from Chauntra village near Jogindernagar in Mandi district and Rs 30 lakh in cash as well as $3,000 seized from their possession. They were later sent to three-day police custody.
It was feared that they were Chinese spies on a mission to India. Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal had dismissed reports that they were spies but said that their identity is yet to be ascertained.
However, on investigation it was found that they were Taiwanese nationals. The goof-up was blamed on the similarity in the official names of China and Taiwan.
While China’s official name Is People’s Republic of China, Taiwan is known as Republic of China.
The eight were illegally working as carpenters and painters in an under-construction palatial house-cum monastery in Chauntra.
Besides Rs 30 lakh in cash and $3,000, 35,000 yuan as well as five SIM cards of Indian telecom operators were found on them.
Police officials said the under-construction house belonged to a Sikkim resident.
All the eight men have been booked under sections 379 (theft) and 411 (dishonestly receiving stolen property) of the Indian Penal Code has been registered. They have also been booked under the Essential Commodities Act, the Excise Act, the Income Tax Act and the Foreigners Act.
What led to the alarm appears to the recent statement by Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, that there is threat to his life from Chinese agents.
Meanwhile, reacting to the issue Union Home Minister P Chidamabaram said their exact motive was yet to be ascertained and cautioned against rushing to judgement.
"It is too early to give any official version. It is too early to come to a conclusion. Reports are yet to come...Wait till tomorrow morning. Don`t rush to any judgements till tomorrow," Chidamabaram told reporters in New Delhi.