New Delhi, June 13 (IANS): India today strongly rebutted China's stand that its giving stapled visas to the people of Arunachal Pradesh was a "goodwill gesture" and said there should be "no discrimination against visa applicants on grounds of domicile or ethnicity".
Days after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Beijing has decided to give stapled visas to people of Arunachal Pradesh, which it lays claim over, "as a gesture of goodwill", Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh said that "..there should be no discrimination against visa applicants on grounds of domicile or ethnicity. After all we are one people."
"After all, we are one people. This is the point we have continually made (to the Chinese side)," she added.
She was replying to a query on Wang's remarks at a press conference in New Delhi, during which he acknowledged the Chinese position that in India's "eastern sector (Arunachal Pradesh) relatively big area is in dispute. It is an objective fact. But the people living there need to interact with each other, and as a special arrangement we have resorted to stapled visas to address the need of the local people to travel.. This is a gesture of goodwill and flexibility."
Wang has said that the practice has been "going on for relatively long period of time and if acceptable to the Indian side it could be continued in future because it does not compromise or undermine our respective positions on the boundary question."
The Chinese minister had added that both sides can hold further discussions on the subject and suggested that they could come up with a "more convenient visa provision" for the people of Arunachal Pradesh.