By Kalsang Rinchen
Lt Gen. Jaswal/file photo
Dharamsala, August 27 – In a latest diplomatic row between India and China, India has suspended all its defense exchanges with China in response to China’s denial of visa to a high ranking Indian army official, media reports said.
China refused to grant visa to Lt General B S Jaswal, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Area Command, who was nominated by the Indian government to travel to China as part of a high-level exchange visit this month.
Media reports said China denied visa for Jaswal as he is posted in Jammu and Kashmir, the northern Indian state which China calls a “disputed territory”. In a similar move, China last year agitated India by issuing stapled visas on passports issued in Jammu and Kashmir. It also told Indian MPs from Arunachal, which China claims as its territory, that they did not require visas to travel to China few years back.
The external affairs ministry of India said in a statement, “The visit, referred to in a newspaper report today, has not taken place, due to certain reasons. While we value our exchanges with China, there must be sensitivity to each others' concerns. Our dialogue with China on these issues is ongoing."
The two largest political parties of India came out in unison against the Chinese move. Bharatiya Janta Party Spokesperson Prakash Javdekar said, "We must strongly condemn the Chinese step. The Ministry of External Affairs and the Government must immediately convey our displeasure in the strongest terms to China. It is the worst kind of insult inflicted upon India by denying permission to Jaswal to visit China," He said China has always fomented trouble in Arunachal Pradesh and they have now begun fishing in troubled waters in Kashmir, adding, "This is helping Pakistan."
Javdekar said New Delhi should make it clear to China unequivocally that Kashmir is not a disputed area and is an integral part of India.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said that India has always maintained that it is interested in strengthening and consolidating relations with China.
"However, the relationship has to be premised on self respect and the sensitivities which concern each other," he said.
"That is for the MEA to work out what are the best modalities to raise it. I am sure the foreign office is cognisant of it and will do whatever is required to be done," he was quoted by media reports.
Two Chinese defence officials, scheduled to visit India for a course at the National Defence College have been denied permission by Delhi. Moreover, a subsequent visit by Indian military officials to China also has been cancelled.
Referring to the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's meeting with the Dalai Lama on August 11, China last week cautioned India to handle the Tibet issue "prudently" so as not to “disrupt” the ties between the two countries.