In a case of administrative goof-up, two Chinese nationals visited some of the “strategically important” locations in Arunachal Pradesh on Protected Area Permit (PAP) issued instead of the Restricted Area Permit (RAP).
The incident came to light about three weeks after expiration of the PAP, which was recovered only recently from Bomdila in the frontier state that shares international border with China, Bhutan and Myanmar.
“On August 30, PAP was issued to two Chinese nationals from Hongkong — Young James John and Wu Chong Shong. They wanted the PAP to enter Tawang, West Kameng and Lower Subansiri districts for 30 days from September 12 to October 11,” said an official at the Deputy Resident Commissioner of Arunachal Pradesh in Guwahati on Thursday.
“The problem is that the citizens of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan require RAP to be issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The application for the PAP was recommended to our office by the Resident Tourism Officer of the government of Arunachal Pradesh. The concerned officer here must have overlooked the issue of Chinese citizenship of the two tourists and issued the PAP instead of RAP,” he said.
“The two PAPs to the Chinese nationals were issued against tourist visa,” he added.
“I have come to know about the incident and I shall submit a report to the government soon,” he said, adding that the government was yet to order a probe into the incident.
Although there was no record whether the two Chinese nationals from Hongkong visited the frontier state or not, recovery of a copy of the PAP from Bomdila indicates that they must have visited the places.
Tawang and West Kameng are heavily militarised zones and are of strategic importance to India, considering the security concern of the country and China’s claim over Tawang as their territory.
The Ministry of Home Affairs, in order to facilitate tourist inflow to the frontier state, in 2015 delegated powers to Secretary Tourism, the government of Arunachal Pradesh, Resident Commissioner Delhi, and to the Deputy Resident Commissioners at Kolkata and Guwahati to issue PAP to normal foreign tourists to enter Arunachal Pradesh.
However, the MHA in its guideline for PAP order 1958 Section 3(ii), clearly said, “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”.
It instructed that issuing authority should exercise utmost caution and thoroughly check the records, negative lists and other restrictive circular etc. before granting a special permit to a foreigner.