In a recent development, China has once again issued stapled visas to sportspersons from Arunachal Pradesh, leading to the withdrawal of the entire wushu team from the country. The incident occurred just before the team was set to participate in an international sporting event in Chengdu.
The 12-member Indian contingent, comprising eight players, one coach, and three officials, was eagerly preparing for the event. However, the excitement turned into disappointment when the visas for the three wushu players from Arunachal Pradesh – Nyeman Wangsu, Onilu Tega, and Mepung Lamgu – were denied. The rest of the team received their visas on time, but the documents for the athletes from Arunachal Pradesh were rejected.
As per the officials, the visa applications were submitted on July 16, and while the other team members obtained their visas without any issues, the Arunachal athletes were asked to resubmit their documents on short notice. On Wednesday, the Chinese embassy returned their passports with stapled visas, which effectively barred their travel.
Reacting strongly to this unacceptable move, India’s External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi, expressed the country’s disapproval and asserted that India reserved the right to “suitably respond” to such actions. He also mentioned that India had already lodged a “strong protest” with the Chinese side regarding the matter.
This is not the first time that China has taken such action against athletes from Arunachal Pradesh. In the past, they have refused visas or issued stapled visas to prevent them from participating in various sporting events. The practice of stapled visas is seen as a clear indication of China’s stance on the disputed territory of Arunachal Pradesh, which India consistently rejects.
The Indian contingent for the World University Games is sent by the Association of Indian Universities (AIU), which conducts selection trials for athletes from various universities across the country. However, despite the AIU’s efforts to ensure a smooth process, China’s actions have disrupted the plans of the wushu team.
In response to the situation, the Indian government directed the entire wushu team to put their travel plans “on hold” until further notice. Consequently, the athletes returned from the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi in the early hours of Thursday, while athletes from other disciplines proceeded to Chengdu as scheduled.
It is crucial to note that China’s refusal to recognize India’s sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh has been a long-standing issue. The stapled visa practice was first introduced in the mid-2000s and later extended to residents of Jammu and Kashmir in 2009, further straining the bilateral relations between the two countries.
India’s decision to withdraw the wushu team in response to China’s actions highlights the significance of sports as a platform for diplomacy and mutual respect. The incident calls for increased efforts to address such sensitive matters in the future, with the hope of fostering better relations between India and China on the sporting front.