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China denies visa to Arunachal youth

An Indian youth delegation member from Arunachal Pradesh could not make it to Beijing after Chinese authorities denied her a visa earlier this week. Sutirtho Patranobis reports.

world Updated: Jul 15, 2012 00:49 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

An Indian youth delegation member from Arunachal Pradesh could not make it to Beijing after Chinese authorities denied her a visa earlier this week.

She was part of a youth delegation that landed in Beijing on Thursday and will be flying to Inner Mongolia on Sunday.

She – officials here denied giving her name – is a former member of the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, affiliated to the ministry of youth affairs, and the only one denied a visa in the group of over 100; the rest including a youth delegate from Srinagar had their passports stamped.

The delegation is here on the invitation of the All China Youth Federation and the visit is part of the program under the scheme of "the Year of China-India Friendship and Cooperation", jointly announced by Chinese President Hu Jintao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The issue came to light after the delegation arrived in Beijing from New Delhi on Thursday.

Subsequently, the Indian embassy in Beijing informed the ministry of external affairs about the visa denial on Friday. It is expected that New Delhi might take up the issue with Chinese authorities next week.

Apparently, the delegate was all ready and packed to leave when she was told that her visa had been denied.

"We were informed about the visa denial shortly before the flight was to take off. The delegates had gathered at the International Youth Hostel (in Chanakyapuri in New Delhi) to leave when the passport was returned without the visa," Nita Chowdhury, secretary, ministry of youth affairs and sports, told Indian reporters in Beijing on Friday.

It was learnt that more than half the passports of the Indian delegates were given to the Chinese embassy in New Delhi for visas on the same day the flight was to leave for Beijing.

Visiting officials attempted to explain the delay by saying it was caused because delegates were coming in from all over India.

But like in earlier occasions, the visa denial has again brought back focus on one of the most contentious issues between the two giant neighbours. China has long claimed territorial rights over Arunachal Pradesh and has either denied visas to anyone from the state or for a while had issued visas stapled separately.

In November, 2009, India had declared as "invalid" the stand-alone paper visas given by the Chinese embassy and consulates for Indians from Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh, and issued a travel advisory asking those going to China to ensure their visas are pasted on their passports.

"Such paper visas stapled to the passport are not considered valid for travel out of the country," the MEA said.

In 2007, Beijing refused a visa to an IAS officer of the Arunachal cadre, saying he did not need one as the state belonged to China.

In April 2010, pistol shooter Pemba Tamang was issued a stapled visa by the Chinese which prevented him from participating in the world championship.

In January, 2011, China again issued stapled visas to two women weightlifters from Arunachal which prevented them from flying to the country. And in July last year, members of a karate team from the state were again issued staple visas.

The woman delegate however can take heart; she’s been included in another delegation heading for South Korea in August.