India seals borders with Pakistan; also blocks access to Kartarpur
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India has suspended land border crossing points with Pakistan indefinitely from March 16 midnight in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak that has claimed two lives in India.
The Indian government on Sunday also announced the suspension of travel and registration for Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan from midnight March 16 till further orders as precautionary measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
India and Pakistan have one land crossing at Attari-Wagah besides the Kartarpur crossing.
On Saturday, Indian officials had said that New Delhi would close 18 of 37 border crossing points between India and countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar. It would come into effect from midnight Sunday.
The move was aimed at channelling movement through those checkpoints with adequate facilities to detect incidence of SARS-CoV2 infections, they said at a briefing on measures to tackle the outbreak of the disease in New Delhi.
Visa-free entry for nationals of Bhutan and Bangladesh would however continue, they said.
All passenger movements through all immigration land check posts at India-Bangladesh, India-Nepal, India-Bhutan, India-Myanmar borders will be suspended from 12 am, March 15 & at India-Pakistan border from 12 am, March 16 till further orders except the below-mentioned posts.
The Indian government is leaving no stone unturned to contain the virus outbreak, which left two people dead so far.
Diplomats and UN personnel having valid visas may be allowed through the Attari crossing point along the India-Pakistan border. However, they would be subjected to health screening and, if required, they may be subjected to quarantine, the Indian Home Ministry order stated.
The decision to close access to the Kartarpur Sahib came on Sunday with Indian government announcing the suspension of travel and registration for Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan from midnight March 16 till further orders.
Indian Punjab has reported one positive case of coronavirus so far but the state government is worried because more than 300 people who returned from countries hit by coronavirus, are untraceable.
“In wake of the #COVID19india outbreak, as a precautionary measure to contain and control the spread of the disease, the travel and registration for #SriKartarpurSahib is temporarily suspended from 12 am March 16, 2020, till further orders,” the Indian Home Ministry said in a tweet.
The Kartarpur Corridor is a visa-free border crossing and secure corridor, connecting the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib also called Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan to the Indian border in Punjab.
The Kartarpur Corridor became operational on November 9, 2019, to facilitate pilgrims to visit the gurdwara on the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev. The corridor allows Sikh devotees from India to visit the gurdwara in Kartarpur, about 5 km from the border without a visa.