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'I will go to China as a proud Indian, not as some half citizen'

By Archana Masih
May 04, 2016 12:39 IST
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Ninong Ering, the MP from Arunachal East, wants to meet his tribes folk across the border in China.
But he is not going to make that trip on a stapled visa issued by China to residents of Arunachal Pradesh.
'I will go on a regular visa and as a proud Indian,' the two-time MP tells Archana Masih/Rediff.com

Menchuka, Arunachal Pradesh 

"If I go to China I will go as a nagrik of India. I will go as a proud Indian citizen, not as a half citizen of China or India," says Ninong Ering, a Member of Parliament from Arunachal Pradesh.

Ering has been invited to meet his tribes folk, known as 'Lohobas' on the Chinese side, but has refused to make the trip on a stapled visa.

China, which lays claim over Arunachal Pradesh, has a policy of issuing stapled visas to residents of the state.

"The BJP had gone to China through the backdoor in the past. They went through Korea or Bangkok. They were citizens of India, not of Arunachal," says Ering, a two-time Congress MP from Arunachal East, which is one of the two Lok Sabha constituencies in the border state with China. The McMohan Line divides India and China, but the latter has disputed its validity.

"I have decided that when I go to China, I will go as an Indian citizen. The Chinese embassy does not allow citizens of Arunachal Pradesh to go on a regular visa," says the MP. "It gives us stapled visas, but the Chinese have to come to a decision about this. It is very important."

Ering belongs to Arunachal Pradesh's Adi tribe, which is known as Lohoba in China. "They are very similar to us," says Ering, "only with a slight difference."

"I would like to go to China because India and China are neighbours and I would really like to see the culture, customs, vidhi, parampara -- which is very much similar to Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet."

The MP says the Indian government has repeatedly maintained that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India and stands by it.

"There have been meetings on this since the Narendra Modi government came to power and it is very good. We want China to come clean. We want a clear cut decision from China. Don't keep us in the dark."

Last week, on a visit to the state capital Itanagar, Craig L Hall, the United States Consul General in Kolkata, declared that the US government is absolutely clear that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India.

Chief Minister Kalikho Pul asked the US consul general to help rectify Google Maps worldwide, wherein China has indicated Arunachal Pradesh and some areas of Assam as part of its territory.

US companies, Hall said, were keen on developing the economy of India's North-East states.

"The American government is going to invest in Arunachal. The Chinese and Japanese or the World Bank don't like to invest in Arunachal," says Ering, "which is very unfortunate."

IMAGE: A view of the Himalayas from from the last village on the McMohan Line that divides India and China. Photograph: Claude Arpi

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