Thar Express, the second train between India and Pakistan, has provided a big relief to those citizens of both sides, who are living just across the international border, but were forced to take the longer route?Wagah-Attari crossing point?to reach their destination, along the border in this western part of the country.
But the train has also brought in a number of problems for police and intelligence agencies, which are responsible for keeping a track of those, who reach India from Khokhrapar-Munnabao border by this train.
As per the record prepared by these agencies, about 600 Pak citizens went missing, after reaching here, during the past one year. Most of them crossed the border from this point with valid documents by this train, which started about one and a half year back. The train had to stop its journey for six months from August last year because of floods in the Barmer district.
The number of missing Pakistani citizens is about one-fifth of the people, who came to India during this period. Since the starting of the train, a total of 3,766 Pakistani citizens came to India. Out of them 588 did not went back, after the expiry of their visas.
This is in comparison of a total 14 Pakistanis, who went missing during the past six years from 2000. Though authorities believe that some of them might have gone back from Wagah-Attari checkpoint, most of them are very much in India. They also believe that among them, a large number could be of Pakistani Hindus, who, after reaching India, do not want to go back, because of religious suppression in their country.
But intelligence agencies believe that those who had not gone back, might be agents of Pakistan'sISI for carrying out espionage activities. When this train was started, intelligence and security agencies were opposed to it as they felt it would create more security problems for the country, which is already facing the onslaught of ISI and its agents in the country.
At one state, there was a proposal to bring the train up to Ajmer, to facilitate the visit of Muslims from Pakistan to the Dargah of Khawaja Moinuddin Chisti in this historic city. But the proposal was dropped on the behest of Union Home Ministry as its officials found it was too risky to bring the train to this communally sensitive city.
Pak Hindu Visthapit Sangh, headed by Hindu Singh Sodha, for the past many years has been demanding to grant Indian citizenship to those Hindus, who had crossed over legally or without any documents. The Sangh says that these Hindus do not want to go back there because of the continuous persecution of Hindus in Pakistan. Though centre had relaxed the conditions to grant them Indian citizenship and a large number of them had taken the advantage of it, there are many Pak Hindus, who are still awaiting to become citizen of the country.