‘Paper Visa’ Row: India Holds Back China-bound J&K Academic

2 November 2009
The Hindustan Times
Toufiq Rashid

New Delhi: Officials at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi prevented a prominent Kashmiri academic from boarding a flight to Beijing on Saturday night, refusing to recognise his Chinese visa. The visa was not stamped on his passport, but had been issued on a separate piece of paper. Shakil A Romshoo, Associate Professor of Geology and Geophysics at Kashmir University, was travelling to Beijing to accept the prestigious Kasumi-gaura International Award he had been nominated for. “The airport authorities wouldn’t let me through,” said Romshoo. “They telephoned home ministry officials in my presence, who confirmed I should be held back.” While continuing to stamp the requisite visa on the passports of most Indian applicants, the Chinese embassy, since late September, has begun making an exception for residents of Jammu and Kashmir. It does not stamp their passports, but provides the visa on a separate sheet of paper. India has protested against this, to no avail. “India and China should sort out the matter quickly,” said Romshoo.