Demanding Prime Minister’s intervention to cancel military delegation’s visit to China, BJP today alleged that the decision to go ahead with it after Beijing denied visa to a senior IAF officer from Arunachal Pradesh was an “insult” to Indian soldiers.
Terming the government’s decision as “shocking”, party spokesperson Tarun Vijay wondered if “China will now decide India’s foreign policy.”
“Will China now influence our policy towards our armed forces?…It is humiliating for Indian soldiers from Arunachal Pradesh. It will be demoralising for other officers from the region,” he said.
The BJP spokesperson also chose to attack the government over the age row involving the Army chief V K Singh.
“Government insults and humiliates not only the army chief but army soldiers. Indian soldiers are being humiliated under this government. We want that the Prime Minister should rectify it.
“Why should we send the delegation to China, when that country does not allow visa to an officer from Arunachal Pradesh? Tomorrow if our Prime Minister is from Arunachal Pradesh and China refuses to give a visa to him, will we send a delegation to that country minus the Prime Minister. A soldier’s honour is not less than that of the PM,” he said.
The BJP leader said that he spoke to Defence Minister AK Antony this morning who told him to meet him tomorrow. “Possibly, the Defence Minister does not have full information about it,” he said.
Vijay said the the officers on Special Duty of Minister of External Affairs S M Krishna explained to him that the officer was dropped because China issues stapled visas to residents of Arunachal Pradesh, which India does not accept.
The BJP spokesperson said this explanation was all the more shocking as it proved that the government took the decision to send the delegation knowing fully well the fact that an Indian military officer has been denied a proper visa.
“It is a discouragement for youths of Arunachal Pradesh for joining the Indian armed forces. This will raise a question among people of Arunachal Pradesh whether the government considers them as Indians,” he said.
Noting that the decision to send the delegation is against the spirit of the all party resolution passed by Parliament denying any claim by China on Arunachal Pradesh, Vijay said, “this, in a way, is accepting China’s claims on Arunachal Pradesh from the back door. It is surprising that the government has accepted even the official objection of China.”
In an overnight change of stance, India yesterday decided to go ahead with sending the military delegation to China as scheduled next week but scaled it down from 30 to 15 after visa was denied to a senior IAF officer hailing from Arunachal Pradesh.
Sources said the Staff Officers’ delegation will travel to China from January 10 as scheduled as part of defence exchanges programme.
However, instead of 30 members as decided earlier, the delegation will comprise 15 members drawn from all the three Services, they said.
The decision marks a change of stance as the government had put on hold the visit in response to the provocative action by China of denying visa to IAF Group Captain M Panging, who hails from Arunachal and was to be part of the delegation.
China, which lays claim over Arunachal Pradesh, has often denied visa to those hailing from the state despite protests by India.