At least 46 Pakistani Hindus, who had come to India on pilgrimage 1.5 years ago but got stranded due to COVID restrictions, returned back to the country via Attari-Wagah border on Wednesday.
The Pakistan immigration had turned them back on Tuesday because they didn’t have RT-PCR test report, protocol officer Arunpal Singh said.
A couple of days ago, Pakistan decided to allow fully-vaccinated Sikh pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur from next month with strict COVID-19 protocols, ahead of the 482nd death anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev on September 22.
On this occasion, three-day rituals will be held at the shrine from September 20. Guru Nanak died in Kartarpur on September 22, 1539. Pilgrimage to the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara was suspended in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The decision to open the Kartarpur shrine was taken by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Saturday due to the approaching death anniversary of Sikhism founder Baba Guru Nanak Dev on September 22.
Dawn newspaper reported that the NCOC meeting unanimously decided to allow Sikh pilgrims to visit Kartarpur next month under strict COVID-19 protocols.
Due to the Delta variant, India was in category C in Pakistan from May 22 till August 12, and a special approval was required for people coming from the country, including Sikh pilgrims.
However, fully-vaccinated persons with certificates will be allowed to enter Pakistan provided they show Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test reports which should not be more than 72 hours old.
Apart from this, a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) will also be conducted at airports and in case of a positive result, the individual will not be allowed to enter Pakistan.
Besides, as per Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs), a maximum of 300 people will be permitted to assemble at a time at the darbar.
(With inputs from PTI)