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Lockdown, Visa Expiry Hold Up Return of Sindhi Men from Pakistan

Image for representation. (Reuters)

Image for representation. (Reuters)

NORI visa is issued to refugees who don't have Indian citizenship. But they are permitted to stay in the country on the basis of a Long Term Visa (LTV) issued by Indian authorities.

Eleven Sindhi community men with a refugee status in India are stranded in Pakistan along with their newly married wives due to the COVID-19-induced lockdown and end of their visa term. Their families originally hail from Pakistan but they are now settled in different Indian cities though they are yet to be granted citizenship.

"These 11 men are stranded in Pakistan's Sindh and Balochistan provinces along with their wives after their marriage (in the neighbouring country) over six months ago.  They are unable to return to India as per their plan because of the lockdown in India that was imposed in March-end. Their No Objection to Return to India (NORI) visa has already expired," Indore BJP Lok Sabha member Shankar Lalwani told PTI.

NORI visa is issued to refugees who don't have Indian citizenship. But they are permitted to stay in the country on the basis of a Long Term Visa (LTV) issued by Indian authorities. The NORI visa allows LTV holders with no Indian citizenship to travel to Pakistan and return within 60 days.

"As these 11 couples wish to start their lives soon in India, I have taken up their matter with the Centre so that their visa process can be expedited. The government has assured to consider the matter sympathetically, " Lalwani said.

The process involves issuing of fresh NORI documents to the men and visit visas to their Pakistani brides. The Indore MP said the Pakistan government should also complete necessary formalities for their return to India soon on humanitarian grounds.

A majority of the brides had valid visas for an India visit but they are unable to come to India due to the lockdown and expiry of their visa term. Among them, two women are on way to motherhood, he said. Indore resident Sagar Kumar Bajaj (26), who is among the men stranded in Pakistan along with his wife, in a video message said, I came to Pakistans Jacobabad (a city in Sindh) on NORI visa from Indore on February 2.

"I got married to Sandhya Kumari on February 22. My wife's visa term ended in June and we are stranded because of the lockdown.”

We are facing difficulties and I want that my and my wife's visas should be issued afresh to facilitate our journey to India soon, he said. These stranded couples families live in Indore, Ahmedabad, Nagpur and Pune. These families are eagerly waiting for their return to India.

Bajaj's father Nanakram (58), who came to India with his family in 2013 and resides in Indore, turned emotional and said, ”I wish to see them back home soon."


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