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Arunachal archers prevented from China trip over stapled visa row

Immigration officials at the airport stopped Mihu Maselo and Yumi Sorang, who were the only two archers from Arunachal Pradesh in the 24-member squad, from boarding a China Southern Airlines flight to Guangzhou. scheduled to depart at 11.10 pm, according to airport

The remaining 22 members of the squad for the championship at Wuxi were allowed to take the flight leaving the two young archers distraught. The two, who are just 14 years, have been lodged at the Delhi Lawn Tennis Association (DLTA) Guest House. India objects to issuance of stapled visas for any of its nationals wanting to proceed to China.

China s stapled visa policy has prevented residents from the border state of Aruanchal Pradesh in the northeast from travelling to that country making it a contentious issue in bilateral relations. Archery Association of India President V K Malhotra told PTI that the Chinese Airlines Authorities disallowed the two archers from boarding the flight, saying they will not be allowed to enter China as they don't have affixed visa on their passport.

"The Chinese embassy issued the stapled visa to the two Arunachal archers and they said there should not be any issue. But when they were to board the flight, the Chinese airlines authorities said the two archers will not be allowed to enter China by the immigration department there," Malhotra said. Confirming the incident, AAI assistant secretary Gunjan Abrol told PTI:" It's a political issue as China considers the state 'disputed'.

For no fault of theirs, the two poor archers were heartbroken. These two Arunachali archers are very young, both 1999 born and they are very upset. We were surprised that the Chinese airlines authorities told us that the two archers cannot board the flight despite all their travel documents are in order." "Since the stapled visa was issued by the Chinese Embassy, we thought there should not be any problem," Abrol added.

The practice of issuing stapled visas to residents of Arunachal Pradesh came to light in January 2011 when two wiightlifters belonging to the state were prevented by immigration officials from boarding a flight from New Delhi to Beijing since they had such visas issued by the Chinese Embassy on their passports.

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