Polio drops in Ramzan leaves Pak travellers with bad taste

  • Aseem Bassi, Hindustan Times, Attari
  • Updated: Jun 25, 2015 21:46 IST

The health authorities' insistence on administering polio drops to Pakistanis entering the country is creating a peculiar problem as this is the Islamic month of Ramzan, wherein people fast from dawn to dusk.

Without the vaccination certificate from Indian authorities, no passenger is being allowed to proceed further on Indian soil.

Most passengers, who alighted from the afternoon Samjhauta Express at the Attari Railway Station on Thursday, were shocked to learn of the condition, more so when they discovered that the certificates of polio vaccination that they had procured in Pakistan were not considered valid by Indian authorities.

With India being declared polio-free, a special team is deployed both at the Attari land border as well as the Attari Railway Station to immunise all children and adult crossing over into the country.

'Unhappy, but no option'

Mohammad Ibrahim (57), a resident of Karachi, had no option but to take the drops to proceed further with his journey, as his request to the health team for exemption went unheeded.

However, as soon as he was given the drops, he was quick to get out a handkerchief, remove the drop and walk away sadly. "I am on fast. I am a little unhappy, but have no choice. I want that relaxation must be given to fasting individuals," he said.

Another traveller from Pakistan Ahmed Ali, who was not fasting, said, "In this month, a fasting individual cannot consume anything. However, health authorities have made it mandatory to take these drops. Rules need to be flexible." Another woman passenger Shahjahan Begum claimed that it hurt when officials asked them to consumer polio drops on the day they were fasting.

However, there were passengers who felt that Indian health authorities were doing their job and no chances could be taken with public health.

'Pakistani certificates fake'

Even though Pakistani nationals, who enter India, produce certificates of polio vaccination from their country, Indian health authorities claim that these are fake, The drops are administered and a fresh vaccination certificate valid for a year is issued.

"All Pakistani nationals do have a certificate, but most of these are fake. We have made the administration of drops mandatory and issue fresh certificates. The rule is enforced strictly and no one can proceed further if the Indian certificate is not issued," a health official told HT, adding that Indian passengers going to Pakistan were also being given polio drops so that they do not get infected there.

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