China issues stapled visas to two Arunachalees

Itanagar: In spite of Premier Wen Jiabao`s assurance that China will take serious note of India`s concerns over the issue of stapled visas, the handing over of such documents to two Arunchalees prevented them from flying to Beijing on Wednesday.

Indian Weightlifting Federation`s Joint Secretary Abraham K Techi along with a weightlifter of the state were shocked when officials at New Delhi`s IGI Airport turned them away because of the stapled visas issued by the Chinese Embassy.

Techi and the weightlifter, who were to visit the country at the invitation of Chinese Weightlifting Association president Menguang for the January 15-17 China Weightlifting Grand Prix at Fujian province, thereafter contacted the Chinese Embassy.

The Chinese officials at the Embassy informed me that the `right` visas have been issued to us, Techi told PTI.

"This is an insult and unnecessary harassment to Arunchalees," Techi said.

Reacting to the incident, Congress Lok Sabha member Takam Sanjoy said though Sino-India relations have been improving with New Delhi and Beijing taking positive steps, the border issue, China`s repeated claims over Arunachal Pradesh territory and stapled visas to residents of Jammu and Kashmir were contentious issues which were hindrances.

Sanjoy said though India, particularly Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, took very bold steps during Wen`s visit in December last year to further strengthen bilateral ties, the Chinese government had proved its policy to consolidate its claim on Arunachal territory.

During his visit, Wen had said that officials of India and China should have "in-depth" discussions to resolve the differences on stapled visas issued to those hailing from Jammu and Kashmir. He also said that China takes India`s concerns on the issue seriously.

China started the practice of issuing stapled visas to people from Jammu and Kashmir two years back. India sees this as an act amounting to questioning the state`s integration with rest of the country.

In 2007 China had denied visa to senior IAS officer Ganesh Koyu who hailed from Arunachal Pradesh and was a member of 107 strong IAS officers` team on a management programme to China.

A study visit to Beijing and Shanghai, part of a programme to learn more about Chinese economic growth and policies, was cancelled at the intervention of the Prime Minister because of Beijing`s refusal to grant visa to Koyu.

Earlier, Vishal Nabam, now advisor to Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu, had visited China on a month-long tourist visa in 2006.