China appears to have relaxed its practice of giving stapled visas to people hailing from Jammu and Kashmir as it has given proper pasted visas to four journalists born in the state.
The journalists are part of the media delegation that will travel with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday to Sanya in China for the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) Summit.
China had in 2008 started the practice of issuing visas on loose sheets of paper to people from Jammu and Kashmir, inferring that it did not recognise the state being part of India.
This had been an irritant in bilateral relations and the matter had snowballed into a major controversy last July when the then Northern Army Commander Lt Gen BS Jaswal was given a visa on a loose sheet because he was serving in the state.
Jaswal was intending to travel to China as part of high-level military exchanges.
India had reacted strongly by suspending high-level military exchanges with China till the issue was sorted out.
The matter was then taken up by the PM with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Vietnam in October last year when they had met on the sidelines of Asean Summit.
The issue was again raised in December with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao when he visited here.
Asked whether the matter related to stapled visas would be taken up by Singh with Chinese President during his meeting in Sanya, external affairs ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said he could not pre-judge what would be discussed.
He, however, recalled that during Wen’s visit here, “the issue had come up and it was agreed that both sides would be putting our heads together to seek an early resolution.”