Gaza-bound aid team stopped at Attari border

Last Updated: Sat, Dec 04, 2010 13:20 hrs

Attari (Punjab), Dec 4 (IANS) A group of 34 Indians on a humanitarian visit to Gaza as part of an Asian outreach initiative were stopped here by Indian authorities Saturday despite having valid visas, organisers said.

The organisers said the ministry of external affairs had not responded to their request for permission to cross over to Pakistan even though it was sought a month back.

'We are deeply disappointed at the decision of the Indian government and it may just end up sending a wrong message about the Indian commitment to the Palestinian people,' said Ashim Roy, one of the team members.

The team staged a sit-in here Saturday to protest the delay.

Under the banner of Asian People's Solidarity for Palestine (APSP), the group was flagged off from Delhi Thursday and are carrying medicines and humanitarian aid worth Rs.35 lakh.

They will be travelling across Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and attempt to break through the Israeli blockade and enter Gaza Dec 27, the anniversary of the 2008 Gaza conflict.

They will be joined by around 400 activists from other Asian countries like Nepal, Japan, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Turkmenistan during the 'Asian Land Convoy to Gaza' trip.

The trip has been facing trouble from the start as the Pakistan High Commission had earlier refused to issue visas citing security concerns.

It finally relented after intense parlaying from both sides of the border, but issued visas to only 34 of the 60 members.