India ‘adds obstacles to pilgrims’ by increasing army presence

By Liu Xin Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/26 19:23:39

China has always been open-minded on Indian pilgrims and will not indiscriminately prevent them from entering even if Sino-Indian ties are strained over the 14th Dalai Lama's visit to India, Chinese experts said, after Indian media reported that around 50 Indian pilgrims were denied entry to Kailash Manasarovar through the Nathu La Pass.

The foreign ministries of China and India are communicating, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told a daily conference on Monday.

China has allegedly refused entry to the first batch of 47 pilgrims who "were scheduled to travel to Kailash Mansarovar through the Nathu La Pass," citing damage to roads due to rain and landslides in the Tibet region, DNA India reported on Saturday.

"The development has cast a shadow on the annual yatra [pilgrimage]," read the report.

"China has always constructed and added routes for pilgrims. The bad weather would be the main reason for the refusal of entry of the 47 pilgrims," Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, told the Global Times on Monday.

Indian media should not speculate on the incident since China would not use stopping pilgrims as a response, even if Sino-Indian ties are strained over the Dalai Lama's visit to India in April, Zhao said.

An anonymous bureau official at the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee told the Global Times  that China has welcomed Indian pilgrims in accordance with agreements between China and India since the reopening of the Himalayan Nathu La Pass.

"Despite China's efforts for improving passes for pilgrims, India has added difficulties for pilgrims to guard against China," said Zhu Weiqun, chairman of the Ethnic and Religious Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Zhao said India has increased the number of troops in disputed areas along the border, which may add obstacles for pilgrims.

This year, a total of 350 yatris had registered for the yatra via the Nathu La route, and were scheduled to travel in seven batches, according to the DNA India report.

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