Pakistan

LAHORE – Around 50 Pakistani students, visiting India along with their teachers at the invitation of an NGO, were sent back to Lahore after they received threats from extremist organisations.

Routes2Roots, a Delhi-based NGO, had invited 50 students from Pakistan as part of their Student ‘Exchange for Change’ Program, according to Indian media reports.

The students, who reached India on May 1, were sent back home only within a day, after Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena threatened the host NGO for inviting the students.

The students were a part of the cultural exchange programme and on a five-day visit to India. The students after the intimidation from extremists were terrified and remained inside their rooms.

They reached Wagah border safely on Wednesday.

The NGO has been advised by Indian government officials that “the time is unfavourable for the exchange programme”, the Deccan Herald reported.

“An NGO had invited Pakistani school students here. They came to India on the same day when the barbaric and inhuman act of killing and mutilating our soldiers happened.

“The ministry advised the NGO that it was not an appropriate time for such exchanges after we learnt that the children had crossed over to India on May 1,” Gopal Baglay, a spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, said.

India has accused Pakistan of killing and mutilating the bodies of two Indian soldiers across the Line of Control.

Pakistan Army categorically rejected Indian Army’s accusations.

“Pakistan Army did not commit any ceasefire violation on the line of control or a BAT action in the Buttal sector (Indian Krishna Ghatti Sector) as alleged by India. Indian blame of mutilating Indian soldiers’ bodies are also false”, an Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement had said.

The Pakistani students were scheduled to go on a day-long trip to Agra today and participate in an exchange of experiences with Indian students tomorrow at the Pakistan Embassy in New Delhi.

Expressing regret over the return of the delegation, Routes2Roots said that the trip had to be shortened and the students and teachers have been sent back to Lahore.

“Around 50 students aged between 11-15 years along with their teachers arrived in Delhi from Pakistan on May 1 and were supposed to meet their Indian pen friends and hosts of other programs which had to be cut short.

“Keeping in view the security and sentiments of fellow Indians the delegation has been sent back to Lahore safely,” Rakesh Gupta and Tina Vachani, founders of Routes2Roots, said in a statement.

In October last year, a similar programme by the NGO was cancelled after the announcement of surgical strike by India along the LoC in September.