India withdrew its entire wushu team from the World University Games in Chengdu as a form of protest against China's decision, to issue stapled visas instead of stamped ones, to three athletes from Arunachal Pradesh.
The decision to withdraw the team came after airport authorities in New Delhi prevented an eight-member contingent, including five athletes, a coach, and two support staff, from boarding the flight just minutes before departure on Thursday (27 July) midnight, as shared by coach Raghvendra Singh in reports.
According to Singh, the group was stopped at the gate by immigration officials and CISF personnel, who did not provide any reason for their actions and claimed to be following government instructions.
It is important to note that the group that was not allowed to board the flight did not include the athletes from Arunachal Pradesh, as they were scheduled to depart on a separate flight on Friday (28 July) at 1.05am, as mentioned by Singh.
The Chinese action has been deemed "unacceptable" by Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs. He emphasised that India has the right to respond appropriately to such actions.
Bagchi stated that it is India's consistent position that there should be no discrimination or differential treatment, based on domicile or ethnicity in the visa regime for Indian citizens with valid passports.
In response to China's discriminatory action, the Indian government made the decision that no Indian wushu player would participate in the competition. Despite other athletes having valid travel documents, they were not allowed to board the flight as a result of this decision.
China has consistently denied stamped visas to individuals from Arunachal Pradesh, demonstrating a segregated approach to areas it considers disputed. India has been actively raising this issue with the Chinese government over the years.
The athletes had applied for visas on 16 July, but the applications of three Arunachal athletes — Nyeman Wangsu, Onilu Tega, and Mepung Lamgu — were not accepted. While the rest of the team had their applications processed in time, these three athletes faced delays.
On Tuesday (25 July), they were asked to resubmit their applications, and on Wednesday afternoon, the Chinese embassy returned their passports with stapled visas.
Upon learning about this decision, the government put the team's participation on hold. Ultimately, on Thursday (27 July), it was decided that India would not take part in the wushu competition of the University Games.
China has consistently denied issuing stamped visas to athletes and officials from Arunachal Pradesh. For example, in 2011, five karatekas from the state were provided with stapled visas for a competition in Quanzhou.
Similarly, two years later, two archers were granted stapled visas prior to the Youth World Championships. Even in 2016, the manager of the Indian badminton team faced visa issues as he hailed from Arunachal Pradesh.
These incidents are indicative of China's refusal to acknowledge Arunachal Pradesh as a legitimate part of India.
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