Stapled Visa and a Selfie

 

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The rights and aspirations of the people of the state need consideration too as India and China embark on path to further strengthen their economic ties. Many Arunachalees would love to take a tour of the Terracotta Warriors Museum and perhaps click a selfie or two!

 

Whenever a high profile guest comes from Delhi to Arunachal Pradesh, he or she never misses the chance to tell us how patriotic Arunachalees are and how everyone greets each other Jai Hind! One immediately realises that the speech writer just copy pasted from an old speech! The only ones who say Jai Hind are police officers as most Arunachalees prefer a simpler hello for a greeting. For the record, we don’t wake up each morning singing songs of praises for the nation or dance in exhilaration that that we are Indians. So when guests, mostly politicians say that Arunachalees are patriotic, I am often exasperated and think whether they have invented a scale to measure the patriotic meter. Post 1962 war with China , the speeches have remained the same as if India is reassuring itself that eastern most sentinels are indeed safe!

 

Would they talk about patriotism if addressing citizens in Mumbai or Chennai? Just a thought.

 

But, one should be less harsh with such speeches or commentsas Arunachal have often been in news for being a “disputed land”. Though we send our representatives to the Parliamentevery five years and headed by an elected state government who swears by the constitution of India, for some reason Arunachal remains a “disputed land”.

 

Whenever the President, Prime Minister or His Holiness the Dalai Lama comes to the state, the Chinese hollers protesting the visit and we in the state know that it will hit the headlines of newspapers and breaking news on television channels. Perhaps the only time we make some news !

 

However, the objection is not restricted to verbal protests as China continues to issue stapled visa to the people of the state, which the neighbours say is a goodwill gesture. The worst sufferers of this questionable gesture have been the sportspersons and government officials hailing from the state. Many have been stopped at the immigration counters at airports because the Chinese stapled visa is not a valid travel document.

 

Arunachalees, obviously are irked by the Chinese decision. In June this year, an organisation marched from Arunachal Bhavan in Delhi to the Chinese Embassy in protest against issuance of stapled visa. The protestors were arrested and sprayed with water cannons.

 

Records say that China first refused to issue a visa to the then Speaker of Arunachal Legislative Assembly, T L Rajkumar in 1981. In 2007, a strong 107 IAS officers team had to pull out from a visit to China at the last moment when an IAS officer hailing from Arunachal was denied visa.

 

Now instead of denying visa, China issues stapled visa. Since 2011, many sportspersons hailing from Arunachal have not been able to participate in any event held in China because of the stapled visa issue.

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With renewed friendship between China and India, time is perhaps ripe to have a discussion on the contentious stapled visa issue. It is unlikely that a solution will be in the offing anytime soon but a start must be made so that there is simpler visa regime. The rights and aspirations of the people of the state need consideration too as India and China embark on path to further strengthen their economic ties.

 

Many Arunachalees would love to take a tour of the Terracotta Warriors Museum and perhaps click a selfie or two!

 

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