While New Delhi and Beijing are sorting out the issue of China handing stapled visas to residents of Jammu and Kashmir, two persons from Arunachal Pradesh were prevented from boarding a flight to China at New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport on Wednesday for carrying such visas issued by the Chinese Embassy.
The "shock" for the two, Indian Weightlifting Federation joint secretary Abraham K Techi and an Arunachali weightlifter, came a month after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Beijing would weigh India's concern over the issue of stapled visas.
Unlike normal visas pasted on an individual's passport, stapled visas are issued on a separate paper. China has been issuing such visas for residents of J&K and Arunachal. Beijing claims large swathes of these two states as Chinese territory.
Commenting on the development, Vishnu Prakash, external affairs ministry spokesperson, said, "We have unequivocally conveyed to the Chinese side that a uniform practice on issuance of visas to Indian nationals must be followed, regardless of the applicant's ethnicity or place of domicile."
Prakash also recalled that the MEA had issued a travel advisory on November 12, 2009 cautioning Indians that Chinese paper visas stapled to the passport were not valid for travel out of the country.
Arunachal Pradesh Lok Sabha member Takam Sanjoy said the stapled visa incident was a blot on the otherwise improving India-China relationship. "Many bilateral issues including Beijing's repeated claim on our state need to be resolved," he said.
Techi and the weightlifter were invited by the Chinese Weightlifting Association for the weightlifting grand prix in that country from January 15-17.
Techi said, "We went to the Chinese Embassy to find out if they had made a mistake. But embassy officials said they had issued the right visas, and if Indian officials didn't honour them, they couldn't help it."