Gaza-bound Indian activists stopped at Attari, launch dharna

Attari: A group of Gaza-bound pro-Palestine Indian activists, who were scheduled to travel to Lahore through the land border, began a dharna here on Saturday after the Ministry of External Affairs denied permission for them to cross over into the Pakistani side.

The 34 activists, who were granted visa by Pakistan to travel till Lahore, were not allowed to cross the Indian side as they did not have the mandatory permission from the MEA.

The MEA has not responded to their permission to cross over even though it was sought a month back.

"We thought the Indian government has a stated policy of support to the Palestinian people. But such unresponsiveness makes us have serious doubts," said Sunil Kumar, who is on the dharna with the others here.

The group makes up the "India Lifeline to Gaza", the first such mission from the country, as it is part of the Asian Peoples Solidarity for Palestine.

The group is part of the first Asian caravan to Gaza, which will carry humanitarian aid on its mission of peace. This historic endeavour will be travelling through 6 nations on its way to Gaza.

The caravan was flagged off from Rajghat on Thursday by senior Congress leaders Digvijaya Singh and Mani Shanker Aiyar.

The convoy was to travel through Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, finally attempting to enter Gaza on December 27, 2010.

But, the Indian contingent was allowed by the Pakistan Government to travel to Lahore, from where the members will take a flight to Iran to continue their road journey to reach Gaza on December 28.

Ashim Roy, one of the members of the group, expressed "deep disappointment at the decision of the Indian Government's decision" and said that "it may just end up sending a wrong message about the Indian commitment to the Palestinian people".