Visa Games China Plays - With Kashmiris

1 December 2009
The Hindustan Times

Srinagar: The Chinese are playing mind games. And New Delhi isn’t amused. After refusing to issue stamped visas to residents of Jammu and Kashmir to make the point that the state was still a “disputed” territory, Chinese authorities have issued such a visa to former Jammu University vice chancellor Amitabh Mattoo. To most Kashmiris, China issues visas on a separate sheet of paper, which is stapled to their passports. India refuses to recognise these as legitimate visas, and has stopped several Kashmiris with such visas at the airport, preventing them from boarding their flights. Professor Shakeel Ahmad Romshoo of Kashmir University was one of them. But Mattoo had no such problems. The Jawaharlal Nehru University professor said his visa was stamped on his passport issued to him in Kashmir. He did go to Beijing. “I had to attend an international conference on nuclear disarmament,” he told Hindustan Times. What kind of visa then will Mirwaiz Omar Farooq get? The separatist leader, who has recently been harping on a role for Beijing in Kashmir, was invited by an NGO there to deliver a lecture. But Foreign minister SM Krishna said the Mirwaiz could go only if he had a valid visa. “Given how sticky Beijing can be about rules, they are clearly playing games… stamping visas when they really want someone to come to China and stapling the visa for ordinary people,” a miffed senior government official said.