Aditi Premjit 9th September, 2020
The visa extension will be stamped on their passports at Attari border in Punjab on their arrival (Source: Akhilesh Kumar)
As reported by The Hindu, The Ministry of Home Affairs gave its consent to permit the extension of visa for 410 people stranded in Pakistan during the hearing before the Jodhpur bench of Rajasthan High Court.
This is good news for immigrants who were residing in India using the long-term visa (LTV) and had gone back to Pakistan for short trips on the special No Objection to Return to India (NORI) visa before the lockdown was imposed in March. The NORI allows LTV residents to visit Pakistan and return within 60 days. But due to the strict lockdown restrictions because of the pandemic, Hindu refugees were stranded in Pakistan even after the 60-day time constraint lapsed.
According to Deccan Herald, During the hearing that happened on August 19, the High Court was informed about the unfortunate situation of the stranded NORI visa holder in Pakistan and was waiting for approval from the Centre with regards to helping them return to India. In response to this, the Ministry of Home Affairs said to The Hindu, “It has been decided that return visa in respect of such LTV holding Pakistani nationals, who had gone to Pakistan on NORI visa before the lockdown and stranded there due to travel restrictions, may be treated as deemed extended for a period up to 15 days from the date on which travel restrictions from Pakistan to India are lifted by the Government of India (GoI)”.
Although two shuttle services were rolled out to the bordering countries to help with the return of immigrants, people under the NORI visa were unable to return because of the expiry of the visa period. This issue had hit headlines when a Hindu refugee, Janta Mali, had gone to visit her sick mother with her husband and children but got stuck there due to the lockdown. Although her family was able to return back to India she wasn’t permitted to do so because her NORI visa had expired.
(Sources: The Hindu, Times of India, Deccan Herald, Indian Express)
Edited by Varun Vyas Hebbalalu