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500 Pakistani Visitors Missing, Say Intelligence Officials

500 Pakistani Visitors Missing, Say Intelligence Officials

Author: Amit Mukherjee
Publication: The Times of India
Date: May 12, 2002

The disappearance of nearly 500 visitors from Pakistan is worrying the Intelligence Bureau. In a report submitted to the Union home ministry, the agency said, "They are all not traceable anywhere."

Of these visitors, more than 375 were to visit destinations in Gujarat. Apart from Gujarat, the missing persons were also headed for Delhi (about 10), Punjab (12) Uttar Pradesh (about 10) and other destinations in Rajasthan, Andhra and other states

According to the bureau, all Pakistanis visiting India in the last one year on special permits should have left the country by January 1, 2001 after all channels of communication between the neighbours were snapped in the wake of escalating cross-border tension. Diplomats were sent back and the Samjhauta Express and Sadbhavna bus services were stopped.

"But these people have probably managed to stay back," said an officer. There is no record of their having left the country.

According to the existing rules, Pakistani nationals visiting the country are required to obtain resident permits as soon as they arrive on visas. While the duration of the stay is never more than 90 days, in special cases, an extension is granted on request.

"But since January 1, these people could not be traced and neither is there any record as of now to point to their having sought extensions of their visas as a span of 90 sources said.

So far, the IB has not commented on their where-about the possible motive for their staying back or their probable activities. But doubts are being raised in the backdrop of the unrest in Gujarat and other isolated pockets of the country.

It is understood that the home ministry is likely to forward the matter to the respective state governments to have the matter investigated further.

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