54 years in India, Chinese soldier was dead in PLA records

BHOPAL: Wang Qi, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) solider who spent 54 years in India, may be back home in China but the drama around him is far from over. He was expecting retirement benefits from Chinese Army but they are on hold as he was declared ‘dead’ on official records, said sources.

His family back in Balaghat, MP, has its own battles. Wang Qi, who is now visiting his family, told TOI: “I would be grateful to the Indian government if they could at least provide caste certificates to my children and grandchildren in MP. They have been deprived of their rights due to this.”

And back in China, a different struggle is on for his dues. To clear his record, PLA has ordered an inquiry into his disappearance from duty in January 1963, two months after the India-China War, and the circumstances under which he was considered dead, said sources.The PLA HQ has reportedly sought an explanation from Wang Qi’s former platoon commander, Wang Zuguo. He was among the hundreds who welcomed Wang Qi at Shaanxi a year ago.
“Wang Qi, as the leader of your platoon, I have been looking forward to seeing you again for more than five decades. I convey the warm welcome from all our comrades to you. You have our country to thank for being able to return home healthy and safe, because the Chinese governments at all levels are deeply concerned about you,” Zuguo was heard telling Wang Qi after a welcome hug in February 11, 2017.

PLA convinced of Qi’s theory of lost years
During interviews to Chinese media, Zuguo had favoured Wang’s narrative that, after losing his way on the border, he sought help from a Red Cross vehicle, which handed him over to the Indian military. Despite some wondering if Wang deserted the army after China began its withdrawal at the end of the 1962 war, PLA is convinced of Wanq Qi’s theory of his lost years.
Wang Qi was arrested by Indian Army on January 3, 1963. He said that he was a mechanical survey engineer and inadvertently crossed the border. Since the war was over, he was treated as a spy and not accorded POW status. After being moved from one jail to another for eight years, he was freed and settled in Tirodi village, Balaghat, under an Indian name Raj Bhahdur. He married and had children but always yearned to return home. After struggling for years, Wang and his family finally visited China on February 10 last year and were given a grand welcome in Xiaozhainan, where his elder brother lives. His return to China had hit frontpages in Chinese media even as the government tried to cash in on the situation by showcasing how they got one of their lost citizens after much effort. After living it up for three months in Xiaozhainan, Wang Qi returned to India. His family is still confused whether to continue to live in a dusty village in Balaghat or to return to China.

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