LAHORE: Around 461 Indian nationals stranded in Pakistan owing to the Covid-19 lockdowns – most of them for over a year -- are set to return home through the Wagah border on June 28.

The visitors had come to Pakistan to meet their relatives, but could not return to India owing to the closure of borders due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Indian High Commission in Pakistan is facilitating the return of 405 Indian nationals, 48 No Obligation to Return to India visa holders and eight spouses/relatives of NORI visa holders.

A NORI visa is issued to refugees who don’t possess Indian citizenship but are permitted to stay in the country on a long-term visa (LTV). This visa allows LTV holders with no Indian citizenship to travel to Pakistan and return within 60 days.

The Indian High Commission had directed its nationals to make necessary arrangements to reach the Wagah-Attari border in time for their return.

The official twitter handle of the commission also shared details of the citizens stranded in Pakistan since last year. “High Commission of India in Pakistan is facilitating the return of 405 Indian nationals, 48 NORI visa holders and 8 spouses/relatives of NORI visa holders from Pakistan to India on June 28, 2021,” it tweeted.

An Indian citizen, Humayun Showkat, tweeted to the high commission that his wife was a NORI visa holder but her name was not mentioned in the list (shared by the commission). “Sir my wife is a NORI visa holder but her name is not in the list but my children’s names are there in serial no.395 and 396,” he wrote.

Last week, Pakistan had denied permission to a group of Sikhs to visit Lahore on the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh due to the coronavirus pandemic. The group was scheduled to arrive in Pakistan on June 21 and observe the anniversary on June 29.

The last time Indian nationals stuck here returned to their home country was on Jan 11 when 114 Indians had been sent back.

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2021

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