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Friday, Aug 23, 2019

India, Pak open road closed for 13 years as Barmer woman’s body comes home

jaipur Updated: Jul 31, 2018 21:40 IST
Mukesh Mathrani
Mukesh Mathrani
Hindustan Times, Barmer
Reshma Khan, who died on July 25.
Reshma Khan, who died on July 25. (HT FILE PHOTO)

India and Pakistan on Tuesday opened the gates at Khokhrapar-Munabao zero point road route — closed since 2005 — to allow repatriation of mortal remains of an Indian citizen who died in the neighbouring country on July 25.

The Pakistan rangers handed over the body of Reshma Khan, a 65-year-old woman from Rajasthan, to the Border Security Force (BSF) at the Indo-Pak border. Reshma’s son Saheb Khan also returned to India with the body.

“The body arrived at Munabao in Barmer district from Pakistan via the Khokhrapar-Munabao zero point road route on the Indo-Pak border. Formalities are being completed to hand over the mortal remains to Reshma’s family members,” an official of the Barmer district administration said.

A resident of Agasadi village in Barmer district, Reshma along with son Saheb went to Pakistan on June 30 to meet her sisters. She was scheduled to return home on July 28, but following an illness she died on July 25.

Saheb couldn’t bring the body to India last Saturday as he missed boarding the Thar Express even though the train made a halt of more than an hour-and-a-half at Khokhrapar station.

Following her family’s request, BJP MLA from Sheo (Barmer) Manvendra Singh raised the issue with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of External Affairs following which MEA Sushma Swaraj asked Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria to help them.

On Tuesday, officials of the immigration department, a doctor and four relatives were allowed to walk to the zero line — the line that divides the two countries —and received Reshma’s body, said Sheo sub-divisional officer (SDO) Chandrabhan Singh Bhati.

“Formalities related to immigration were completed at the zero point. Later, the coffin was carried by BSF men to the platform at Munabao railway station, about two kilometers from the international border. Formalities related to customs were completed there and the body was handed over to Reshma’s relatives,” Bhati added.

The Munabao border, which had remained closed for the last 13 years since 2005, was opened on Tuesday to bring Reshma’s body. It was in 2005 that this border was opened last when then Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh had gone to Pakistan through this route to visit Hinglaj temple. The border was closed after the Thar Express began its weekly run.

Saheb broke down on entering India. “We wanted to bring her to her motherland for the last rituals. This could not have been possible without Manvendra Singh’s help,” he said.

The MLA said after the family missed to board the Thar Express, he talked to the government of India after which the two countries agreed to open the road route for transfer of the body.

“Pakistan government issued necessary clearances on Monday,” Singh said.

People of villages near the international border have long been demanding opening of this route so that they can board and deboard the train at Munabao. Currently, they can board the train only at Jodhpur.

Thar Express is a weekly train that takes passengers from Jodhpur to Kokhrapar in Pakistan. In Kokhrapar, passengers deboard the Indian train, go through customs and immigration and board the Pakistan train for Karachi. The Indian train, meanwhile, returns with passengers from the Pakistani train from Karachi.

First Published: Jul 31, 2018 21:40 IST

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