MEA alerted Immigration against Chinese paper visas in Jan 2009

The controversy of Beijing giving paper visas to Kashmiris has turned intriguing as the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) instructed Immigration way back in January 2009 to only allow those passengers from Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh to travel who have Chinese visa stamped on the book.

Government sources told The Sunday Express that a prominent Kashmiri Congress politician brought the paper visa issue to the notice of MEA last December after which immediate instructions were issued to all airports, ports and exit points through a letter sent to the Bureau of Indian Immigration. This was confirmed by Indian Immigration officials.

Interestingly, it has also now come to light that the Chinese have given paper visas to all Kashmiris who have got their passport issued from Srinagar while others who have got passport issued from Delhi have the visa stamped on their book.

While an exercise is currently underway to find out the total number of Indian citizens from Kashmir who have travelled to China on paper visa, the immigration authorities have not allowed anyone from Kashmir or Arunachal Pradesh to travel on paper visas since the MEA brought the matter to its notice in writing.

Although New Delhi has raised concern with Beijing with the official spokesman going on record saying that New Delhi has "conveyed its well justified concern to the Chinese government in this regard", Beijing has maintained a studied silence in this regard as it is still examining the issue.

However, what is not clear is whether New Delhi lodged protest as recent as around September 30 or it was a reiteration of its concerns after the paper visa issue was first discovered last year.

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