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Wushu team set for World University Games in China held back due to ‘stapled visas’ for Arunachal players

Three players in the team - Nyeman Wangsu, Onilu Tega and Mepung Lamgu - are from Arunachal Pradesh.

ITANAGAR-    “Three wushu ‘players’ of Arunachal Pradesh were ‘denied’ visa and given stapled visa by China at the last moment. So the Government withdrew the entire wushu team. Media report said.

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On the positive side, India has sent its men’s and women’s volleyball teams. Badminton, tennis, table tennis, archery, fencing and judo are among the other events where Indians will be in action.

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India on Thursday described as “unacceptable” China issuing stapled visas to some sportspersons from Arunachal Pradesh and asserted that it reserves the right to “suitably respond” to such actions.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India has already lodged its “strong protest” with the Chinese side on the matter.

Bagchi said it has come to the government’s notice that stapled visas were issued to some Indian citizens who were to represent the country at an international sporting event in China.

The 12-member team included eight players, one coach and three officials. Three wushu players in the team – Nyeman Wangsu, Onilu Tega and Mepung Lamgu – are from Arunachal Pradesh.

The people cited above, who asked not to be named, said the visas for the team were applied for on July 16. While the rest of the team members got their visas on time, the documents for the Arunachal athletes were not accepted.

They were finally asked to submit their documents again on Tuesday, and the Chinese embassy returned the passports with stapled visas on Wednesday, the people added.

The three players were scheduled to depart for Chengdu on Thursday night. The other members of wushu team were to fly out on Wednesday night (Thursday, 1am).

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The people said that the government, after being apprised of the issue, directed the entire wushu team to put their travel plans “on hold” for the moment. The team came back from IG airport in Delhi at around 2.30am, while those for other disciplines left for Chengdu.

The Indian contingent for World University Games is sent by the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) which organises selection trials of athletes from across various Universities in India.

China has in the past refused visas to sportspersons from Arunachal Pradesh or issued stapled visas, effectively barring their travel.

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In 2011, the Chinese Embassy issued stapled visas to five karate players from Arunachal Pradesh for a championship in Quanghou. In 2013, two young archers, Maselo Mihu and Sorang Yumi, were stopped from taking part in the Youth World Archery Championship for the same reason.

Stapled visas are meant to indicate that China doesn’t recognise India’s sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh. India has consistently rejected China’s claim that the northeastern state is disputed territory.

China began the practice of issuing stapled visas to residents of Arunachal Pradesh in the mid-2000s and it extended the practice to residents of Jammu and Kashmir in 2009.

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