100 Indians allowed to return via Attari-Wagah border

Hindustan Times, Amritsar | ByAnil Sharma, Amritsar
Mar 16, 2020 10:45 PM IST

15 Kashmiris studying in Pakistan are among those who came back on Monday

Three days after the Centre suspended cross-border trade and movement of passengers through the Attari integrated check post (ICP) near Amritsar till April 15 as a precautionary measure against coronavirus, 100 Indians, including 15 Kashmiris studying in Pakistan, have returned to India through the route. No foreigner, including Pakistanis or Afghan Hindus, is being allowed to enter the country through the check-post. The ban, however, is not affecting Indian travellers returning home.

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A Customs official said those who returned were screened at the border and none was found symptomatic.

“From Saturday to Monday, 100 Indians have returned though the border. Fifteen Kashmiri students, studying in Pakistan, were among them. A special team of doctors screened and checked them thoroughly at the border. No one was found with symptoms and were allowed in,” said a senior Customs official on the condition of anonymity.

Hundreds of Kashmiri students are in Pakistan, which had closed educational institutions across the country for the next three weeks due to the outbreak of the disease.

“On Friday, 60 Kashmiri students had returned to India,” said a source at the Attari border adding that more were expected to return on Tuesday.

Amritsar civil surgeon Dr Prabhdeep Kaur Johal said Indians returning from Pakistan and Afghanistan were being screened at the border. “If anyone is found to have symptoms, he will be quarantined in isolation wards,” she said, adding that Indians who returning from the seven worst-hit countries — China, Iran, Italy, Korea, France, Germany and Spain — through the land border will be quarantined for at least 15 days, even though they might not have any symptoms.

According to the Union home ministry’s order on Friday, movement of people was barred through the border from 5.30pm the same day. Diplomats, officials of the United Nations (UN) and other international organisations, employment and project visas holders were excluded from the ban.

On Saturday, eight Pakistani prisoners were repatriated to their home country via the Attari-Wagah border crossing after being released by Indian authorities. The prisoners, according to a BSF official, were taken into custody after accidentally venturing into India.

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