US police looking for missing Indian soldiers

March 29th, 2008 - 10:55 am ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, March 29 (IANS) The US police and defence authorities are helping India to find two Indian soldiers who went missing from a US army camp in California during a training assignment. “We are working with the Department of Defence, as well as state and local law enforcement agencies, to provide the Indian government with all the help it needs to locate these individuals,” the State Department stated Friday.

“We can confirm reports that two Indian soldiers disappeared from Camp Pendleton during a training assignment,” it said in response to a question about the missing soldiers who came to the US as part of a routine annual exchange.

“Our Office of Foreign Missions in Los Angeles received a letter today (Friday) from the Indian Consulate in San Francisco requesting assistance in liasing with local law enforcement officials about the missing soldiers,” it said.

The Indian embassy here said the two soldiers of Nepalese origin were part of a contingent of 120 Indian soldiers who came to the US March 8 as part of a routine annual exchange. The contingent finished it’s training March 22 and returned home two days later.

The Indian consulate in San Francisco has written to the Office of Foreign Missions in Los Angeles about the missing Indian soldiers. The US Marine police too had written to the local civilian police about them, an embassy spokesman said.

According to reports from New Delhi, riflemen Sanjay Mahato and Santosh Thapa, who had come for the exercise called Shatrujeet failed to turn up for the morning parade at Camp Pendleton March 21.

“The two soldiers, who are from 1/1 Gorkha Rifles and hail from Nepal, have been declared AWOL (absent without leave). Mahato and Thapa did not take any weapon, ammunition or their passports with them,” said an officer in Delhi.

“If they do not return after 30 days, they will be declared deserters. They will dismissed from service and face penal action on being arrested. It looks like a case of illegal immigration,” he added.

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