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Indian traders released, moved to Shanghai hotel

Beijing, January 4
Two Indian nationals, who were held hostage for about 20 days in the Chinese trade hub of Yiwu by local traders were today released and shifted to a hotel in Shanghai by Indian officials.

"We reached safely to Shanghai and were put up in a hotel by the Indian Consulate," Deepak Raheja, who was held captive along with Shyamsunder Agrawal, told PTI over phone.

He said when they were being taken out there was no resistance by local traders who had surrounded their hotel at Yiwu where they were put up during the past two days.

The duo was brought out by the Indian Consulate officials with the help of Chinese police escort.

They are expected to be in Shanghai for the next few days until they recuperate from scars of torture and ill-treatment suffered at the hands of the local traders.

A top Indian official complimented the Chinese Foreign Ministry officials for prevailing on the local Yiwu administration to let the duo 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.

However, the duo cannot leave China immediately as their travel documents have been impounded by the court in Yiwu in connection with the case. Chinese traders were unwilling to let them go asserting that their company owed millions of Yuan for products bought from them and they would be permitted to leave only after payments were made.

Meanwhile, China today assured India that it has initiated criminal proceedings against five locals suspected for the torture of the two Indians and promised to address the issue besides giving due attention to the safety of Indian nationals on its soil.

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 here today.

Meanwhile, in New Delhi, Chinese Ambassador to India Zhang Yan met separately 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. PTI

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