China issues separate visas to Kashmiris: India raises objection

      India on Thursday raised objections with China over the issuing of separate visas to Kashmiri travellers to that country. External Affairs Ministry's spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said: "It is our considered view and position that there should be no discrimination against visa applicants of Indian nationality on the grounds of domicile for ethnicity." "We have conveyed our well justified concern to the Chinese government in this regard," he added. New Delhi's protest came after the Chinese embassy recently issued stamped visas to some Kashmiri travellers on a separate sheet of paper and not on their passports. China recently started the practice of issuing separate stamped visas to those hailing from Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing claims as a disputed territory. New Delhi feels that the action with regard to Kashmiri travellers is seen as an attempt by Beijing to question the status of Jammu and Kashmir as a part of India. According to sources, this development throws into question whether Beijing will be willing to continue for long its reluctant third party position to the dispute over Kashmir, in the light of its own geopolitical and territorial interests. An openly discriminatory move towards Kashmiris certainly will not help reduce tension along the lines of control that separate Chinese and Indian forces. At present China is officially remaining impartial despite having vested interests in Kashmir -- it is appealing for restraint from both sides. However both China and India are uncomfortably aware of the shared Indo-China border along the Himalayan Mountains and have made slow progress in resolving the differences over this territory, with a good portion of it -- 3,268 kilometres still falling into the three disputed sectors.

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