Delhi turns tables on Beijing over Mirwaiz trip to China

New Delhi on Friday turned the tables on Beijing by stating that Mirwaiz was free to go to China, provided he got a visa recognised as valid by the Indian government.

New Delhi had recently stated that it would not accept as valid the “stapled paper visas” issued by the Chinese embassy and consulates in India exclusively to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh.

“He (Mirwaiz) is free to go wherever he wants to,”  external affairs minister S M Krishna told journalists when he was asked to react to Mirwaiz’s statement that he had received an “invitation” from “a Chinese NGO” to travel to that country for a seminar on Muslims there.

Foreign secretary Nirupama Rao later told a news conference that the Indian government had never prevented the Kashmiri leaders from travelling to other countries. She, however, made it clear that Mirwaiz would have to get a “valid visa” from the Chinese government to travel to that country.

The ministry of external affairs (MEA) recently issued a travel advisory stating that the Indian government did not recognise the stapled paper visas as valid travel documents and immigration officers in the airports would not let people with such visas to fly out.
“If China issues stapled paper visa to Mirwaiz, he would not be allowed to fly out — only for technical reasons and not because of the Indian government’s disagreement with the separatist agenda of the Hurriyat Conference,” an MEA official said.

And, if the Chinese government issues a regular visa to Mirwaiz, it will tantamount to backtracking by Beijing from its earlier decision not to treat the people of J&K on a par with Indian citizens from other states.

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