Five members of an Indian karate team from Arunachal Pradesh will not be able to make it for a championship in Quanghou as the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi issued them stapled visas at the eleventh hour. The five were stopped at New Delhis IGI Airport late Tuesday night.
The 11th Asian Karate-do Championship (Junior and Cadet) began in the Chinese city Wednesday. The Indian Karate Federation had been coordinating with the Chinese Embassy for visas for a 45-member Indian contingent,and they had all got visas as early as July 5 except the five from Arunachal. While two of them are officials,three are players who were to represent India in three different categories.
This is the second time this year that sportspersons from Arunachal have had to miss an international meet because of China issuing them stapled visas.
China has long claimed territorial rights over Arunachal and has consistently been issuing stapled visas to people from the state despite Indian objections.
The karatekas who will miss the tournament are Likha Lej (14 years),Tage Saa (17 years) and Rei Yadi (16 years). We were sure all the three would have won medals, said Likha Tara,president of the All Arunachal Karate Association who was to accompany the Indian team as joint secretary of the Indian Karate Federation. The fifth person to go with them was their coach,Langkung Marik.
The federation was told that our visas would be issued either on July 12 or 13. But on July 13,federation secretary Bharat Sharma told us that the Embassy wont give us visas because we are from Arunachal Pradesh, Tara said.
On July 15,the federation wrote a letter to the Embassy requesting them to return the passports of the five Arunachalis.
This time they asked us to purchase our tickets,which we had already cancelled twice in the meantime. But even after we purchased our tickets again,a federation official was handed over only stapled visas for the five of us,with the assurance that we could enter China with those, Tara said.
However,when they reached the IGI Airport at around 8.30 pm Tuesday for a 12.30 am flight,Indian immigration officials refused to let them proceed.
One officer showed us a letter of the Union Home Ministry,marked as secret,which said no Indian citizen from Jammu & Kashmir and Arunachal should be allowed to fly to any country with stapled visas, Tara said.
Takam Sanjay,Lok Sabha member from Arunachal,urged the Centre to take up the matter at the highest level with Beijing and sort out the matter once and for all. I am taking up the matter with the Prime Minister as well as with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.