GUWAHATI: In an incident that might shake up the bureaucracy, particularly in the North Block and the South Block, two Chinese ‘tourists’ managed to visit sensitive locations in Arunachal Pradesh taking advantage of a wrong permit issued to them.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) guidelines restrict the entry of people from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China into the state. A tourist from any of these countries is required to obtain the stringent RAP (Restricted Area Permit) which entails prior approval from the MHA.
But the Chinese duo – Young James John and Wu Chong Shong – were wrongly issued a PAP (Protected Area Permit). PAP is issued to tourists from other countries while the domestic tourists are required to obtain an ILP (inner line permit) to visit the state. John and Shong, who live in Hong Kong but are holders of Chinese passports, visited Arunachal just days before US envoy Richard Verma’s visit to Tawang last month that ruffled Beijing’s feathers.
According to officials, they were issued a PAP on August 30 by DJ Borah, the then deputy resident commissioner (DRC) based in Guwahati, to visit Tawang, Lower Subansiri and West Kameng districts for 30 days from September 12 “for tourism purposes”. It was not yet known if the two Chinese had set their feet on the heavily-militarized and sensitive Tawang but a copy of their PAP was retrieved from a Bomdila hotel. Hotels in Arunachal are required to keep the police informed of their guests.
The disputed Tawang, which China dubs as southern Tibet, is eight hours drive from Bomdila. The then DRC Borah, transferred out about a month ago, was not available for comments. The state’s tourism secretary, Joram Beda, also could not be contacted.
The office of the DRC in Guwahati said it was preparing a report on “what appears to be a case of overlooking” of the application that was processed by the office of Arunachal’s tourism directorate based in Guwahati. Meanwhile, the Arunachal Pradesh Tour Operators’ Association has lodged a complaint with the police for the gross negligence. “We’ve told the tourism officials and the parliamentary secretary in-charge of the department that the DRC should be booked under the National Security Act,” the association president John Panyi, told Express.
The MHA guidelines state: “Citizen of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan and foreign national of Pakistani origin shall not be issued a special permit without the prior approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs”. The MHA seeks that the officials exercise utmost caution while processing special permit for foreigners.