In 1963, just after the conclusion of the Sino-Indian war, a Chinese army surveyor got lost, crossed over the border and ended up in custody in India. Little did he know, he would be spending the next 54 years trapped there, unable to return to his homeland.
The BBC recently traveled to the remote village of Tirodi in central India to speak with Wang Qi. While Wang has made the best of his unexpected predicament, marrying a local girl and starting a family, he says he still wishes he could travel home to see his family in China.
Reporters were able to facilitate a video chat between Wang and his 82-year-old brother living in Shaanxi province. The two hadn’t seen each other in over half a century. “I couldn’t recognize him. He looked so old. He said he was alive just for me,” Wang said afterwards.
Wang’s status is unclear. After being picked up by authorities in 1963, he spent the next seven years moving between a number of jails. When he was finally released, police escorted him to Tirodi village and told him to start a life there. Since then, he’s been curiously denied official Indian documents and citizenship, as well as the permission to travel back to China.
A decade ago, he tried to obtain permission to go home to visit his elderly mother, but to no avail. She died in 2006 without seeing her “favorite son” again.
“There are no suspicions about his actions. If he wants to go back, we will try and help him,” a local official told the BBC when asked about Wang’s situation.
In the end, it appears that Wang’s case has mostly just been forgotten about by both sides and lost in a maze of bureaucracy. An injustice that is easier to ignore than correct. Perhaps, some exposure will help him finally get a long-awaited ticket back to China for a visit.
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