Days after Minister of State for Youth Affairs Jitendra Singh lodged a strongly worded protest on China’s pre-condition that no youth from Arunachal Pradesh should be included in an Indian delegation visiting Beijing next month, India on Monday decided to call off the trip.
Sources said the trip was cancelled after Singh shot off a letter to External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, asking him to cancel the trip unless China drops the condition.
The Sunday Express had first reported Singh’s protest to the Chinese’s condition. The annual youth exchange delegation was scheduled in the first fortnight of May.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign ministry spokesperson Qin Qang said on Monday, “China’s position on the boundary question between India and China is clear cut and consistent,” reiterating Beijing’s claims over the north-eastern state.
Qin’s remarks came in response to a question on media reports which said China has asked India not to include any person from Arunachal Pradesh in this year’s youth delegation which was expected to visit here next month.
Singh had said, in his letter, that these were incremental steps by China to challenge India’s sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh and its other territories and they must be nipped in the bud, lest these lead to bigger and more direct challenges.
According to Singh’s letter, the Chinese embassy in New Delhi had conveyed to his Ministry that “no youth from the state of Arunachal Pradesh be included in the youth delegation” after which the matter was referred to the Ministry of External Affairs for advice and guidance.
The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports sent its first letter on March 12 stating that they had been “informed orally” by the Chinese side to avoid any nomination from Arunachal Pradesh. The letter, therefore, sought “necessary direction” on the subject. This was followed by another reminder on April 3.
While the MEA never got back with a firm direction, sources said, it withdrew the political clearance given to the Minister and Secretary of Youth Affairs to head the delegation on grounds that India was in “election mode” and it may not be the right time to undertake a visit as bilateral issues may arise.
Singh had made it clear that he never intended to travel as he was preoccupied with electoral work and that even last year, he had sent a ministry official instead. But he said he was outraged by the decision to exclude youth from Arunachal.
Former Apple executive and Dwarka MLA Adarsh Shastri has also been included in the spokespersons’ list.