India-China

Visa row: Did India buckle under Chinese pressure?

Dolkun-Isa-row Uighur leader Dolkun Isa
  • Had India allowed Dolkun Isa to attend a conference in Dharamasala, it would have emboldened other countries to invite Chinese rebel leaders, and the whole thing would have spelled trouble for Beijing's interests.

Even as India's U-turn in granting visa to Uighur leader Dolkun Isa, whom China has long branded a terrorist, draws rebuke from several quarters, foreign policy experts believe it has served its purpose—of sending a strong message to China.

Some political supporters of the Narendra Modi government saw the initial grant of the visa as a response to China putting on hold India's request to blacklist Masood Azhar, the head of Pakistani militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad, at the United Nations.

However, on Monday the Centre, without citing any reason, withdrew the visa, provoking criticism from the opposition that it had buckled to pressure from Beijing.

"Modi's latest foreign policy disaster on China can be termed a Himalayan blunder," said Sanjay Jha, a spokesman of the main opposition Congress party.

But there are others, who believe that India has made its stand on blacklisting Masood clear to China, “without losing any ground”.

“India has not lost anything,” Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor of Chinese studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, was quoted as saying in a report.

He says had India allowed Isa to attend a conference in Dharamasala, it would have emboldened other countries to invite Chinese rebel leaders, and the whole thing would have spelled trouble for Beijing's interests.

Isa is the executive chairman of Munich-based World Uyghur Congress, a leading ethnic Uighur group that advocates democracy and human rights. China blames unrest that has killed hundreds of people in its far western province of Xinjiang on Islamist militants looking to establish an independent state for the mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority.

Exiles and rights groups say the Xinjiang unrest is more a reaction to repressive government policies than organised by any cohesive militant group.

With Reuters inputs

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