NEW DELHI: The Army on Tuesday said it will take another “few days” to release the Chinese soldier who was apprehended after he inadvertently crossed over into Indian territory in the Demchok sector of eastern Ladakh on Monday.

An Army officer said there is “laid down protocol and due process” that is followed in such cases, even though the espionage angle has been virtually ruled out. “The Chinese soldier, Corporal Wang Ya Long, is fine after receiving medical assistance. He is also being questioned by Chinese language experts,” he said.

“He will be handed over to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at the Chushul-Moldo border point after the formalities are completed, as per the protocol,” he added.

Earlier in the day, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson in Beijing said Wang was helping local herdsmen find their yaks when he went missing in the process.

“The Indian side promised support and said it will return the soldier in time after medical checks. We hope the Indian side will stick to its commitment and return the soldier at an early date,” said the spokesperson.

As was reported by TOI on Monday, the PLA soldier, who had his identity card in his pocket and belongs to Shangxizhen town of central Zhejiang province in China, was disoriented when he was taken into custody by Indian troops in the Demchok sector.

The incident comes at a time when the eight round of corps commander-level talks between India and China is set to take place later this week. There was no tangible breakthrough in resolving the standoff during the seventh round on October 12, though the PLA came up with “a fresh set of mutual disengagement proposals”.

India has stuck to its stand of “complete de-escalation” at the troop face-off sites as well as along the entire LAC in eastern Ladakh, with the PLA initiating the withdrawal in accordance with the “first in, first out” principle.

India had also rejected China’s demand that its troops first vacate the tactical heights they pre-emptively occupied on the ridge line stretching from Thakung on the south bank of Pangong Tso to Gurung Hill, Spanggur Gap, Magar Hill, Mukhpari, Rezang La and Reqin La (Rechin mountain pass) on August 29-30.