India asks China not to issue stapled visas for Kashmiris


New Delhi: Ahead of External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna’s visit to Beijing, India Saturday asked China to stop the practice of issuing stapled visas to Indians from Jammu and Kashmir and said Beijing should be sensitive to New Delhi’s “core concern” on this issue.

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“We have asked the Chinese side to do away with dual visa policy policy,” Gautam Bambawale, joint secretary in charge of China and East Asia in the external affairs ministry, told reporters here.

“This is a matter of core concern for India because it goes to the heart of our territorial sovereignty and integrity,” Bambawale said.

“We will continue to press them on this issue,” he added.

“We expect that this important concern of ours is taken on board,” said Vishnu Prakash, spokesperson of the external affairs ministry.

The issue will figure in discussions between the two countries during Krishna’s talks with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi in Beijing next week.

Krishna goes to Beijing on a four-day visit Monday, his first to that country since becoming foreign minister in May last year.

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

China, which claims sovereignty over the Indian northeast state of Arunachal Pradesh, had also issued stand-alone visas to residents from that state. In some cases, the Chinese side did not accept visa requests from residents of Arunachal Pradesh on the premise that they did not require visa to travel to China.

India has taken up the issue with China at the highest levels, but it has apparently not stopped the practice which is widely seen here as a not-so-subtle message by Beijing to contest India’s sovereignty over these states.

India has officially objected to this practice of issuing separate visas “to certain categories of Indian nationals on the basis of their domicile, ethnicity and/or place of issue of the passport”.