Lahore: Over 100 Pakistani Hindus on Saturday crossed into India via the Wagah land border, taking the number of Hindus travelling to the neighbouring country on a month-long pilgrimage to more than 200, officials said.
After receiving clearance from the Interior Ministry, immigration authorities began allowing the group of Hindus to cross the border yesterday.
About 115 Hindus walked across the frontier yesterday before the Wagah border was closed for the day.
"Some 115 Hindus left for India on Friday and another 100 left for India from Wagah on Saturday," Fraz Abbas, a Deputy Director of the Evacuee Trust Property Board told news agency.
He said the Hindus had dismissed media reports that they were migrating to India.
Despite possessing valid travel documents, the Hindus were virtually detained by immigration authorities for about seven hours yesterday following reports in the electronic media that they intended to migrate to India.
The Hindus belong to Balochistan and Sindh provinces, where the minority community has been the target of extortions, kidnapping for ransom and forced conversions.
The Federal Investigation Agency obtained "verbal undertakings" from the Hindu families that they would return to Pakistan before giving them permission to travel, sources said.
After reports emerged that 250 Hindus from Sindh and Balochistan intended to migrate on the pretext of travelling to India for a pilgrimage, Interior Minister Rehman Malik claimed the development was a conspiracy to defame Pakistan.
The Hindus were allowed to cross the border after
representatives of the community assured the government that they would return following the pilgrimage, he said.
President Asif Ali Zardari yesterday took serious notice of reports of a "sense of insecurity" among Pakistani Hindu families and directed authorities to allay the minority community's grievances.
He asked authorities in Sindh to assess the situation and to submit a report to him.
The President also constituted a three-member committee of parliamentarians to visit different parts of Sindh to express solidarity with Hindus and to reassure them about their security.
The committee includes federal minister Moula Bakhsh Chandio.
First Published: Saturday, August 11, 2012, 19:09