Stopped at Attari, DRM asks: Were we going to Pak to commit theft?

An Indian Railways delegation was not allowed to cross over to Wagah border to hold a high-level meeting with their Pakistani counterparts because they weren't carrying passports and visas.

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Amritsar | Published: May 30, 2015 2:29 am
attari, indian railways, pakistan, indian delegation stopped, indian delelgation not allowed to cross wagah, drm, india news, pakistan news An Indian Railways delegation was not allowed to cross over to Wagah border to hold a high-level meeting with their Pakistani counterparts because they weren’t carrying passports and visas.

A day after a Railways delegation led by Divisional Railway Manager, Ferozepur, Anuj Prakash was not allowed to cross over to Pakistani side from zero line at Attari Joint Check Post to hold a meeting with Pakistani Railways officials at Wagah on Thursday—none of the delegation members had any passport or visa for Pakistan—the DRM fumed at authorities at Attari Integrated Check Post, saying the delegation should have been allowed to cross over to Pakistan.

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“Were we going to commit theft that we were not allowed to cross over? It has created embarrassment for the government. We are not illiterate. It is not that we were not aware that a passport and a visa were required to cross over to Pakistan, but we were repeatedly assured by the Border Security Force that they would take us to the other side of the border for the meeting without any visa. Only then we came for the meeting without passports and visas.

In 2011, when the last meeting was held between Railway officials of India and Pakistan at Attari (on Indian side), the Pakistani delegation had come without any passport or visa. So, such practice was there in the past,” Prakash told The Indian Express on Friday, adding that he had taken up the matter with Railways headquarters at Delhi.

Prakash said that even the Railway Ministry’s stand was that no passport or immigration clearance was required (for the meeting). He added that the development had also come as a “surprise” for the Railway Ministry.

Prakash also alleged that the authorities at Attari ICP told them about the requirement of passport and visa “only a day ahead of the scheduled visit”.

“Even if we assume there was a communication gap, let us look at practicality. Why this big Attari ICP has been set up? Is it to solve the problems or create impediments?” Prakash asked, reiterating that the delegation should have been allowed to cross over for the meeting. The meeting was for fostering trade ties between the two nations, he added. “We had come all the way from Ferozepur for the meeting,” he said.

Assistant Commissioner (Customs) at Attari ICP, Amanjit Singh, however, said that he received a letter about the visit in writing on Wednesday (May 27) from the railway authorities and replied to them same day in writing that the delegation would not be allowed to cross over to Pakistani side without passport or visa. “There have been verbal communication with me in that regard also and for nearly five days I had been telling the same thing,” Amanjit said.

“Moreover, it is the immigration that decides who can cross over to Pakistan and who not. Customs’ duty is only to check the goods,” Amanjit said.

BSF DIG M F Farooqui said, “We had only told the Railways delegation that we would facilitate them to go to Pakistani side. We did not know that they were not carrying documents required by the authorities concerned. We are border guarding force. We are not the immigration,” said Farooqui.

Both Amanjit and Farooqui said they did not have information about whether Pakistani Railway delegation came for the 2011 meeting without passports or visas, as the Attari ICP was set up in April 2012.

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  1. K
    Karunakaran
    May 30, 2015 at 6:58 am
    If the report quotes Anuj Prakash (Divisional Railway Manager, Ferozepur) correctly, he says "Even the Railway Ministry’s stand was that no pport or immigration clearance was required (for the meeting)" I have not heard a more stupid thing for quite some time coming from an Indian official. The Railway Ministry has absolutely no authority to make statements on the requirements of pports and/or visa to a foreign country. It is the domain of the External Affairs Ministry! If the Minstry of External Affairs (MEA) has made a statement to the effect, they would have discussed it beforehand with the foreign government concerned. Just because the foreign country is a next door neighbour, it does not mean that the MEA is not a responsible party. People often make the same remarks when talking about Nepal as well. Again, it is the domain of MEA so long as India and Indian citizens are concerned.
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    1. L
      Lawrence
      May 30, 2015 at 7:54 am
      The DRM should be given a kick on the backside and asked to get back to his office and work. He has no business in fostering trade ties between our countries. Other ministries do the job well. Everybody is trying to be a hero these days.
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      1. M
        Mohan
        May 30, 2015 at 8:03 am
        I agree with you !
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        1. M
          Mohan
          May 30, 2015 at 8:04 am
          The MR 's clarification/statement is based on past experience -- and not an announcement of what the rules are !
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          1. C
            Charu
            May 30, 2015 at 9:36 am
            Seriously, have ANY of you EVER worked inside a government office? Which world do all you commenters inhabit? Get real, men! Do you think the delegation suddenly decided to go to stan on their own? Really? Are you folks for real!? NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING moves without the top person micro-managing EVERYTHING. And I mean EVERYTHING!!! So picture it...orders come from the top to go to stan. This has been planned for a LONG Time. The team gets ready. They reach out for procedural support. AND THEY GET THE WRONG ADVICE!!!!! Especially the ICP saying, we are only customs, not immigration. Then why is ICP stopping humans when they deal with only goods.
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