Why is China issuing separate visas to residents of Indian Kashmir?
New Delhi is barring residents of Indian Kashmir from travelling to China on separate visas issued by the Chinese embassy.
Saifuddin Soz, senior Kashmiri leader and member of India’s ruling Congress party, has said the decision by China to issue hand-written visas on loose sheets of paper to Kashmiris was “not acceptable”.
Why is China issuing separate visas to people from Indian Kashmir?
Separatist leaders say that China’s decision to issue visas to Kashmiris on loose sheets reflects Beijing’s recognition of Kashmir as disputed territory.
Kashmir, where tens of thousands of people have been killed since an anti-India insurgency broke out in 1989, is divided between India, Pakistan and China.
India controls around 45 percent of the former princely state, Pakistan around a third and China the rest, a largely uninhabited slice of high-altitude desert.
China has given no explanation for its move, but New Delhi took up the matter with the Chinese embassy and asked Beijing to stop discriminating against Indian nationals on the basis of their “ethnicity” and “domicile”.
“How would they feel if India only offers a stamped visa to Tibetans while issuing visas on a separate paper for the applications residing in other parts of China,” an official from the Ministry of Home Affairs was quoted as saying by the Economic Times.
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, who calls for greater autonomy and cultural freedom for Tibet, has lived in northern India since fleeing Tibet during a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.
China accuses the Dalai Lama of wanting independence for Tibet.
Beijing’s new visa policy for Indian Kashmir may affect only a handful of residents and businessmen of the disputed Himalayan region but diplomatic implications of the Chinese move could affect relations between Beijing and New Delhi.
China currently has little interest in stoking tensions, as it has been trying in recent years to reassure nervous Western nations that its economic rise will not be matched by military expansion. Diplomats like to talk of “peaceful development”.
Then why is China issuing visas to residents of Indian Kashmir on loose sheets of paper and not on Indian passports?