Activists stage a dharna at the Wagah border point

Indian peace activists planning to take humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip sat in dharna briefly at the Wagah border point with Pakistan. They later returned to Delhi as the government denied them permission to cross over on foot.

“Permission was not denied. They had valid passports and visas and were free to use the established means of transport to cross over into Pakistan. Going on foot is not one of the established means such as bus, train or plane,” said informed sources in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) here.

‘No response

Members of the “India lifeline to Gaza” claimed that the Ministry did not respond to their plea for permission to cross over even though it was sought a month ago. “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 sat in dharna with the others at Wagah.

The mission, first such from the country, is part of the Asian Peoples Solidarity for Palestine.

“Crossing over by foot is not the normal practice. Foreigners, diplomats and sometimes journalists can cross over on foot. For jathas and other groups, the norm is to take the established means like bus, train or flights,'' said the sources.

This group planned to travel through six nations on its way to Gaza. The caravan was flagged off from Rajghat on December 2 by senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh along with Mani Shanker Aiyer, MP, Planning Commission Member Syeda Hameed and National Advisory Council member Harsh Mander. The convoy was to travel through Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, and to enter Gaza on December 27.

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