Jammu and Kashmir, expect Modi to take up, settle stapled Visa issue permanently

ModiDuring the visit of Chinese President President Xi Jinping to India the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradhesh are looking forward, and hoping that the issue of stapled visas is taken up the Indian Prime Minister. This issue has been rankling the people of these two states, and have also led to strained relations between the two countries. The controversy of stapled visas acquired prominence when a top Indian general was issued a stapled visa on the ground that he was posted in a disputed area. This led to strong opposition by the Indian government and also freezing of military exchanges with China. While the military exchanges were restarted but the issue of stapled visas has remained unresolved. India had raised objections also when in 2010, the Chinese embassy issued stapled visas to a leading J&K cardiologist.

While the Chinese issued proper visas to journalists from Jammu and Kashmir in 2011, during the BRICS summit but still there has been instances of such visas to Indian residents. The Chinese earlier issued stapled visas to J&K residents to please it’s ally Pakistan, and they have been continuing to do the same in the instance of Arunachal residents. The Chinese who have staked claims over Arunachal Pradesh are of the opinion that if visa is embossed on Indian passports then in a way it means acceptance of Indian suzerainty over the state. The Indians on the other hand hold that if this practice is allowed then it will be akin to accepting the Chinese claims on Arunachal which is anathema to the political leadership.

Experts however point out that China has indeed softened it’s stand on Arunachal as it is now issuing visas to the residents of the state whereas earlier it was denying them visa altogether. It has also accepted the fact that this region is disputed whereas India on the other hand does not consider this to be disputed. It is also being said that since the issue of visas has been an irritant it should be resolved on the basis of political parameters and guiding principles agreed between the two countries in 2005. However, it is being speculated that China has hardened it’s stand vis a vis Arunachal and Asksai Chin after Modi took over government in Delhi, and even asked China to give up it’s expansionist policy, a remarkable change in how India deals and talks with it’s big neighbour.

The issue of stapled maps is being discussed at the highest level, and it was also taken up during Manmohan Singh’s last visit to China in 2013. The people in India are now expecting that a powerful Prime Minister in Delhi could act more decisively to resolve this issue, and settle the dispute once for all.

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