Stranded Pakistan refugees to return via Wagah border on September 7, says order

New Delhi: India and Pakistan agreed to facilitate travel of Hindu and Sikhs refugees stranded in Pakistan due to lockdown. 363 Pakistani nationals living mostly in India but currently in Pakistan due to COVID 19 are allowed to enter into India via Wagah border by foot on September 7, 2020, states an order issued on Thursday by Ministry of Interior, Pakistan.

ET on September 3 first reported the plight of Pakistan refugees stranded in Pakistan who wanted to apply for Indian citizenship under the newly amended Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). On long term visa (LTVs) in India, they had gone back to Pakistan to meet their relatives, renew identity cards or passports, under the no-obligation return to India (NORI) visas.

While Indian citizens were allowed to come back in May after gradual easing of restrictions, those on LTVs were denied permission. Since these refugees hold passports or other identity documents issued by the Pakistan government, the verification process was lengthy,” said an official. In its order, the Pakistan government said, “Along with Pakistani nationals, 37 Indians stranded in Pakistan may also be allowed to travel via Waga-Attari border on September 7”.

“We have been informed about the order issued by the government of Pakistan but we are yet to get any communication from the local authorities,” Ravi Maloo told ET over the phone. He along with his family members came to Peshawar in February on NORI visa.

In December last year, the union government passed CAA to provide citizenship to six persecuted minorities — Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian — from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. People from these communities, who had come to India till December 31, 2014, due to religious persecution in these countries, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship, as per the Act. However, the Centre is yet to notify the CAA rules.

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