New Delhi: Asserting that Arunachal Pradesh was India's "integral and inalienable" part, the government on Tuesday said Indian leaders visit that state as they visit other parts of the country, four days after China raised a strong protest over Prime Minister Narendra Modi going to that state.
"The state of Arunachal Pradesh is an integral and inalienable part of India. The people of Arunachal Pradesh are citizens of India. Indian leaders visit Arunachal Pradesh from time to time, as they visit other parts of India," spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry Syed Akbaruddin said.
He was replying to a query if there was any chance that India will give a strong reply to China on Arunachal Pradesh issue after it commented on Modi's visit to that state.
The spokesperson was answering questions during a live 'Q&A' session on Facebook.
Expressing its "diametrical opposition" to Modi's visit to Arunachal, China had lodged a strong protest with India, saying it was not conducive for resolving the border dispute.
China claims the northern part of the state as a part of the Tibet Autonomous Region, a claim rejected by India.
Modi had visit Arunachal Pradesh earlier this month to participate in the state's 29th foundation day and also flagged off the Naharlagun-New Delhi Express by pressing a button at a function held in state capital Itanagar.
The development is significant given that both countries are preparing for Modi's visit to Beijing in May.
To a separate question on response to 'Visit India Year 2015' launched by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in Beijing, the spokesperson said, "It is less than a month since the Visit India Year 2015 was launched in Beijing. The first data will come in March. We expect an increase in tourists."
During the 45-minute Facebook session, the spokesperson received about 1,300 questions ranging from job opportunities in India to consular issues to government welfare schemes. He responded to over 20 questions.
Asked about the shortage of Indian diplomats, the MEA spokesperson said there were nearly 2,000 Indian diplomats but it was still not enough.
"This of course is still not enough. We have increased our annual intake to the Indian Foreign Service. When I joined in 1985, the annual intake was only 12. Now, in 2014, it is 35. This is a nearly 300 percent increase," he said.
On reports that Sri Lanka will ink nuclear pact with Pakistan, he said India was the first country with which Sri Lanka has signed a nuclear agreement. "It indicates the trust that we have in cooperating with each other on this sensitive technology," Akbaruddin added.
He was also questioned about a YouTube message by a group of Indian nationals stuck in Jeddah, to which he replied that country's Consulate in Jeddah was fully aware of the case and all possible steps are being taken in actively pursuing it with various Saudi authorities.
On India's membership in the UN Security Council, he said the UNSC reform process was being discussed at the UN General Assembly. "We are hoping for a framework to be agreed upon. Once this is done, individual countries will be able to vote for candidates, including India, for permanent membership," the spokesperson said.
Asked about by when India would get bullet train, he said a feasibility report on the Ahmedabad-Mumbai route for the bullet train was being prepared which was likely to be ready by June. "Further decisions can be taken after that," he added.