India has expressed its concern to the Chinese government over Beijing issuing visas on a separate sheet of paper to Indian nationals from Jammu and Kashmir instead of stamping them in their passports.
This latest attempt by China to needle India is being viewed by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) as a well-thought-out strategy to question the status of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Chinese had in 2007 refused to grant a visa to an Indian Administrative Service officer from Arunachal Pradesh, to which Beijing lays claim. It has been issuing visas stapled to passports to people from Arunachal who have traveled to China since 2007.
“We have conveyed our concern to the Chinese government in this regard,” said MEA spokesperson Vishnu Prakash.
“It is our considered view and position that there should be no discrimination against visa applicants of Indian nationality on grounds of domicile or ethnicity.”
A Chinese embassy official, however, told HT that “correct and valid visas had been issued to students by Beijing”.
It’s not clear when the Chinese started issuing visas on a separate sheets of paper to Kashmiri travelers. The matter came to light when immigration authorities at the Delhi airport turned away Kashmiris carrying the standalone visas, assuming they were fakes.
The Chinese embassy however issued letters confirming that it had issued valid visas. The matter was then brought to MEA’s notice, prompting it to take up the issue with Beijing. Immigration authorities have been directed to treat the standalone visas as invalid.
MEA officials suspect a tacit understanding between China and Pakistan as Islamabad had last week raised its pitch on Kashmir at a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Conference.