NEW DELHI —
India has revoked a tourist visa extended to a German-based, exiled Chinese dissident leader to attend a conference to be held later this week at the headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile in northern India.
Officials in New Delhi did not give a reason for withdrawing the visa given to Uighur activist, Dolkun Isa, but it is believed to be due to pressure from Beijing.
Isa, branded as a terrorist by Beijing, is chairman of the World Uighur Conference, which advocates human rights and democracy. Uighurs are an ethnic minority community from China's western Xinjiang region and have a long history of discord with Beijing.
Responding last week to the visa issued Isa, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, said, “Dolkun is a terrorist in red notice of the Interpol and Chinese police. Bringing him to justice is due obligation of relevant countries."
'Tit for tat'
New Delhi’s permission to the Uighur leader to travel to India had been described by the Indian media as “tit-for-tat” diplomacy.
India has been upset with Beijing for blocking its bid at the U.N. to name the chief of Pakistan-based militant group Masood Azhar of Jaish-e Mohammad, as a terrorist and sees it as an example of China siding with Pakistan. The visa to Isa was also seen as a signal that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is prepared to take a more assertive stand with China.
India's move to revoke the visa has come under criticism, with Sanjay Jha, a spokesman for for India’s main opposition Congress party, calling it a “Himalayan blunder.”
In a statement, Isa, who lives in Germany, said he was disappointed by the Indian government’s withdrawal of the visa, which he said was done on April 23.
“I recognize and understand the difficult position that the Indian government found itself," the statement added, "and regret that my trip has generated such unwarranted controversy."
The conference in Dharamsala has been organized by the U.S.-based Initiatives for China and is expected to be attended by Uighurs, Tibetans and other exiles.