India has lodged its protest after the Chinese government denied entry to Indian sportspersons from Arunachal Pradesh to take part in the Asian Games, which are being held in China's Hangzhou.
As a mark of protest, Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur has also cancelled his scheduled visit to attend the Asian Games, said the Ministry of External Affairs.
In a statement on Friday, the MEA said that the Chinese government has acted in a "targeted and pre-meditated manner" to discriminate against the Indian sportspersons from Arunachal by denying them entry.
"Government of India has learnt that the Chinese authorities have, in a targeted and pre-meditated manner, discriminated against some of the Indian sportspersons from the state of Arunachal Pradesh by denying them accreditation and entry to the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China...A strong protest has been lodged in New Delhi and Beijing against China's deliberate and selective obstruction of some of our sportspersons. China’s action violates both the spirit of the Asian Games and the rules governing their conduct, which explicitly prohibits discrimination against competitors from member states," said MEA.
China has long provided 'stapled visas' to Indians belonging to Arunachal Pradesh and has not provided them proper full visas. China does this as it claims to China to be a part of its territories. China claims that Arunachal is part of Southern Tibet. The stapled visa means that China rejects Indian sovereignty over Arunachal. The MEA also rejected this in the statement.
"In line with our long-standing and consistent position, India firmly rejects differential treatment of Indian citizens on the basis of domicile or ethnicity. Arunachal Pradesh was, is and will always remain an integral and inalienable part of India," said the MEA.
Earlier, it had been reported that three wushu players from Arunachal were denied entry to China as their documents were could not be downloaded. The rest of the wushu squad, however, downloaded their documents and travelled to China as they were not from Arunachal.
The Hindustan Times reported that the three players received their accreditation cards from Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee (HAGOC), following which they were required to download travel document that is validated upon arrival. While the rest of the squad could download their documents, these three players —identified as Nyeman Wangsu, Onilu Tega, and Mepung Lamgu— could not download their documents.
"Once the athletes received the accreditation cards from the organising committee, it meant that they have been cleared to travel for the Asian Games. But surprisingly only these three players could not download their document and they could not board the flight," said an official to HT, which reported that the rest of the squad reached China.
This is the second time in two months that a similar incident has happened, reported HT.
"In the last week of July, the same players could not compete at the World University Games in Chengdu, China (July 18-Aug 8) because they were given stapled visas by China...The eight-member wushu team had then withdrawn from the event in Chengdu in protest...On Thursday, India's Chef-de-mission for the Asian Games Bhupendra Singh Bajwa, who is also the president of Wushu Association of India (WAI), took up the matter with the HAGOC and the Olympic Council of Asia," reported HT.
Following the MEA's statement, Union minister and Arunachal MP Kiren Rijiju said that he strongly condemns the Chinese government's action. He further said that the Chinese conduct violates both the "spirit of sports and also the rules governing the conduct of Asian Games, which explicitly prohibits discrimination against competitors from member states".
The HT report had said that the affected players had also approached Rijiju regarding the issue.
"Arunachal Pradesh is not a disputed territory but inalienable part of India. Entire people of Arunachal Pradesh resolutely oppose any illegal claim of China on its land and people. International Olympic Committee should reign in China's illegitimate action," said Rijiju in a tweet.