Indian military team to leave for China today
New Delhi: For the first time in almost a year, an Indian military delegation headed by an Army general from Jammu and Kashmir will be in China on a five-day visit beginning on Sunday.
India had put such interactions on hold in August 2010 after another general from the border state was denied a proper visa to visit Beijing, citing the "disputed nature" of Jammu and Kashmir.
Rashtriya Rifles' Delta Force commander Maj Gen Gurmeet Singh, responsible for anti-insurgency operations in Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban areas of Jammu and Kashmir, will head the eight-member delegation that will tour Beijing and Urumqi in Xinjiang province in western China, government sources said here.
The delegation will also comprise officers from the Indian Army's Lucknow-based Central Command responsible securing the India-Tibet border over Uttarakhand and Kolkata-based Eastern Command that defends the Line of Actual Control with China in Arunachal Pradesh. The team will return to India June 24.
Asked whether Singh has received a stamped visa, sources said the officer has received a "proper visa". India has refused to recognise stapled visas as valid travel documents to visit China.
The Indian decision to resume defence cooperation with China was arrived at during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Sanya this April to take part in the third BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) summit.
In July last year, China did not issue a stamped visa and instead provided a stapled visa to Indian Northern Army's then commander Lt Gen BS Jaswal based in Udhampur, to lead a military delegation to Beijing, resulting in New Delhi suspending all bilateral defence visits between the two nations.
However, the border personnel interactions between troops on ground along the 4,057-km-long line of actual control between the two countries continued.
The previous visit to China by an Indian military delegation took place in 2009, when present Army chief General VK Singh was there, leading a delegation in his capacity as the Eastern Army commander.