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India on Thursday (October 1) conveyed its "well-justified concern" to the Chinese government over the issue of separate visas to Indian passport holders from Jammu and Kashmir. "It is our considered view and position that there should be no discrimination against visa applicants of Indian nationality on grounds of domicile or ethnicity," external affairs ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said here. "We have conveyed our well-justified concern to the Chinese government in this regard," he said.
He was reacting to the new practice adopted by the Chinese embassy in New Delhi to issue visas to Indian passport holders from Jammu and Kashmir on a separate sheet of paper rather than stamping them in their passports, which is the norm with other Indian citizens. The move is seen here by the external affairs ministry as an attempt to question the status of Jammu and Kashmir, which is claimed by Pakistan, considered an all-weather ally of China.
The Chinese embassy has been issuing 'stapled visas' to Indian passport holders from the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, over which Beijing claims sovereignty. "The visas are valid," said a spokesperson of the Chinese embassy. She refused to answer any other question.
It is not clear when the Chinese started this practice of issuing 'stapled visas' to Indians from Jammu and Kashmir. According to informed sources, the new practice has coincided with a hardening of China's posture over Arunachal Pradesh. "It's meant to put India on the defensive on the boundary issue," said a source. India and China have held 13 rounds of talks to resolve their decades-old boundary dispute but the negotiations have not made much headway.