Three martial arts athletes from Arunachal Pradesh who were set to compete at the World University Games in Chengdu were controversially given stapled visas rather than stamped ones by China recently. In response, India made the decision to not send its entire eight-person contingent to the games.
But what are visas with staples?
Instead of being stamped onto the passport, stapled visas are attached to it as a separate document.
Reports claim that China’s decision to issue stapled visas to Indian citizens signals that it does not recognise India’s sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh. India and China have been at war in Arunachal Pradesh’s forward positions for the past few years.
The Indian government claims that stapled visas are a strategy used by China to seize control of Arunachal Pradesh. India also made the decision to forgo sending its entire martial arts delegation to China to compete in the games in response to China’s move. Authorities at the airport stopped the athletes just as they were about to board their flight on Thursday night.
Coach Raghavendra Singh was quoted by The Indian Express as saying, “There was no explanation given, other than the fact that the authorities were acting on government instructions.”
China’s actions, according to Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, were “unacceptable” on Thursday. Bagchi added that India has the right to “suitably respond” to China’s gesture.
But this isn’t the first time China has granted stapled visas to Arunachal Pradesh-born citizens of India. Arunachal Pradesh-based officials of the Indian Weightlifting Federation and a weightlifting athlete from India received stapled visas from China in 2011.
This has been a point of contention with China over the years, according to Bagchi’s statement. He repeated, “Our steadfast stance is that there should be no discrimination based on ethnicity or domicile in the visa regime for Indians holding valid passports.