India-Pakistan Travel: Over 400 Indians Return Via Wagah-Attari

Pakistan had suspended travel with India in March 2020 following the second wave of COVID-19.

3 min read
Hindi Female

Months after being stuck in Pakistan because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, some 400 plus Indians travelled back via Wagah-Attari border on Monday.

A contingent of 405 people including Indian nationals, students, long term visa holders and their relatives and 56 Pakistani nationals with valid visas crossed over into Indian Punjab on 28 June. The same was communicated by the Interior Ministry of Pakistan via a note verbal on 18 June. The Indian High Commission in Islamabad had been sending fortnightly reminders to the concerned authorities in Pakistan since April this year, said sources.


“The 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 28 June, 2021. The repatriation will be carried out as per the list of Indian nationals and NORI visa holders. Please make necessary arrangements to reach the Wagah-Attari border in time for your repatriation” read a notice posted on the official website of the Indian Commission in Islamabad on Sunday.

The Indian government issues NORI visas to Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals who live in India or are married in India but have not yet obtained Indian citizenship but instead hold LTVs (Long Term Visas).

Many of those scheduled to travel on Monday were stuck in different parts of Pakistan. Additionally, four Pakistani prisoners including one civilian Muhammad Ramzan and three fishermen lodged in Indian jails are also expected to have been repatriated back to Lahore via the Attari-Wagah border.

Pakistan had suspended travel with India in March 2020 following the second wave of COVID-19.
Notification by Pakistan’s Ministry of External Affairs
(Photo: Smita Sharma)

COVID-19 Travel Restrictions between India and Pakistan

Pakistan suspended travel with India in March 2020 following the outbreak but batches of nationals on both sides have been repatriated under special arrangements occasionally since.

In November 2020, 107 Pakistani nationals from India and 88 NORI visa holders, 75 Indians and 7 Spouses of NORI visa holders from Pakistan to India were repatriated. The repatriation facilitations halted this March following the deadly second wave COVID surge in India that took away lives of tens of thousands of Indians.

Also a fortnight ago, Pakistan placed strict restrictions on travellers from 26 countries including South Asian neighbours India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka to contain the spread of COVID-19 cases in the country.

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) placed these countries including India in the "C Category" and revised the inbound air/land travel categories with an immediate effect amid news of the rise of Delta and Delta plus variants.

"Countries in A category are exempted from the mandatory COVID-19 test, travellers from areas in B category require a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that must be taken within 72 hours of the travel date while countries in C category are restricted and people can travel only under specific NCOC guidelines," an official of the country's Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) was quoted by the media.

Meanwhile, both India and Pakistan continue to be on extended travel ban lists of several countries including Canada, Saudi Arabia and UAE.

(Smita Sharma is an independent journalist and tweets at @Smita_Sharma. This is an opinion piece. The views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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