The family of a 33-year-old Byculla resident of south Mumbai is stranded in Karachi as Pakistan has closed the Wagah border. Their visas will expire by the end of this month.
Moiz Amirali Udaipurwala, who belongs to the Dawoodi Bohra community, and his wife, Umme Farwah, who holds Pakistani citizenship, went to Karachi on February 1 with their one-year-old son. This was Udaipurwala’s first visit to his in-laws in Karachi after his two-year-old marriage.
While Udaipurwala returned to Mumbai on account of work in the second week of February, his wife and son were scheduled to return on March 21 through Wagah border. However, the border will be closed for the next two weeks owing to the spread of Covid-19 in Pakistan, which has more than 700 cases.
Udaipurwala now alleges that his family is not being allowed to even fly down to India. “A traveller has to exit Pakistan through the same route as he entered,” he said. “We first took the flight from Mumbai to Amritsar following which we crossed the Wagah border to reach Lahore. We then boarded a train to reach Karachi. Now, my family will have to come back through the same route.”
Udaipurwala has also approached officials at the Karachi airport to allow his family to board a transit flight to reach Mumbai via Dubai. “But the officer refused. As the exit permit is via Wagah border, they weren’t allowed to travel via other modes of transport. My son will turn into an illegal citizen as his visa expires within four days,” he said.
Farwah holds a Pakistan citizenship and resides in India with a Long Term Visa (lTV). On January 21, she was granted a return visa from the Foreigners Registration Office in Mumbai which is valid till March 29. Their son’s return visa will expire on March 26.
Moiz has now sought help from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to get his family back. “We cannot approach the Indian Embassy in Islamabad for extension of the Return Visa...Kindly assist to escort my wife and my son to reach Mumbai till their visas are valid else please extend the Return / NORI Visa for a sufficient time till the lock-down is over or please provide any other possible solution,” reads the email sent to the Indian government on March 20.
HT has sent an email to the Indian embassy in Pakistan, but the officer hasn’t responded.