New Delhi: India summoned China's ambassador on Friday to protest the refusal of visa to Northern Army Commander Lt Gen B S Jaswal to visit that country because he comes from 'sensitive' Jammu and Kashmir, which China has long considered as 'disputed territory'.
Chinese Ambassador to India Zhang Yang met Joint Secretary (China) Gautam Bambawale and is understood to have discussed the issue, sources said.
China has denied permission to Lt Gen B S Jaswal, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Udhampur-based Northern Command, saying that 'people from this part of the world come with a different kind of visa", sources said.
This has led to a strong reaction from India which has put all defence exchanges on hold.
Gen. Jaswal was to visit China in July as part of defence exchanges but it could not take place in view of the Chinese objection, sources said here today.
Upset over Beijing's action, New Delhi has kept in abeyance permission to two Chinese defence officials to come here for undertaking a course at the National Defence College.
A pending visit by Indian military officials to China has also been put off by India.
The visit by a General-rank officer to China was agreed upon between the two countries in January during the Annual Defence Dialogue, the sources said.
However, at that time it was not decided as to who will be sent by India, they said.
When India conveyed its decision to send Gen Jaswal, China wrote back saying that he came from "sensitive location of Jammu and Kashmir" and that "people from this part of the world come with a different kind of visa", the sources said.
The Chinese side suggested that India may send some other officer and not cancel the visit.
Chinese objection came close to the visit and so the matter could not be resolved and the trip could not take place.
"I am told that the visit to China has been postponed for a while. I am not aware of why it is being delayed," Gen Jaswal said.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister A K Antony ruled out snapping defence ties with China in the wake of the row.
"It is not the question of breaking defence ties with China. We have close ties with China, though they could be some problems occasionally," he told reporters at a function.
Antony said short term problems would not affect overall approach towards China.
Commenting on the development, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said the visit did not take place "due to certain reasons" but did not elaborate.
He, however, made it clear that China needed to be sensitive to India's concerns.
"While we value our exchanges with China, there must be sensitivity to each others concerns. Our dialogue with China on these issues is ongoing," he said.