Mixed reaction in Kashmir over China’s separate visa row

     China's new practice of issuing special stapled visas on loose sheets of paper has evoked a mixed response among the people of Jammu and Kashmir. On Thursday it was reported that for over a year now, the Chines Embassy in New Delhi has been issuing visas to the travellers from Jammu and Kashmir on a loose sheets of paper, and not stamped on their passports. A Kashmiri youth Imtiyaaz said: "I would just like to say that China has done wrong. Whatever they are doing with Kashmir is for their own benefit. It will prevent the Kashmir students from going abroad. They do not have any sympathy for the Kashmiris. They are only trying to settle their dispute with India.” Kashmiris also feel that China’s initiative is an attempt to try and settle its dispute with India. "This is very wrong step, it has harmed the Kashmiris. The Indian government has also stopped Kashmiri students from going abroad. It is very bad. They should have taken this step earlier. Now they have made this move on their 60th anniversary, they just want to show their power to India," said Abdul Wahid, a local. According to sources, the Chinese Embassy has so far issued over 100 such visas. China's initiative may have created a furore in the Indian political circles and the government, but the locals in Kashmir are happy to be treated as an independent entity. "This is the best step China has taken that Kashmir is disputed since 1947. This is a very good step. It is good that they are issuing separate visas to Kashmiris," said Ghulam Nabi, a retired state government employee. On Thursday in an exclusive interview to the ANI, External Affairs Minister, S.M. Krishna asked China not to discriminate among the Indian nationals while issuing visas to travel to that country. "It has come to the notice of the Government of India that China is issuing different visas to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. We are taking up the issue with Chinese Government," he said. Krishna said: "We will tell them that visa related issue should be uniform, there should not be any discrimination among the Indian nationals while issuing visas." "Jammu and Kashmir is a part of India so there should be uniformity while issuing the passport," the External Affairs Minister added. Earlier, China issued 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.

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