Kashmir mulls re-opening of other pre-Partition routes


Jammu : In a bid to boost the people-to-people contact between two sides of Kashmir, the Jammu and Kashmir government is examining proposals for re-opening more pre-Partition routes across the Line of Control (LoC) that divides this state between India and Pakistan.

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Speaking at a meet on cross-LoC trade here Thursday, state’s Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather said the government was considering the demand for the re-opening of more routes and it would forward the recommendation to the central government, which subsequently would take up the issue with Pakistan.

“It is our effort to increase people to people contacts,” Rather said, describing the LoC as a “Berlin Wall” which should be dismantled to enable people travel easily and without any hassle from one part to the other.

The opening of more routes has been a persistent demand of some of the political groups in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as being recommended by a working group headed by former foreign secretary M.K. Rasgotra, dealing with issue of strengthening relations between Indian and Pakistani Kashmir.

The group was one of the five working groups constituted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to address the internal dimension of Kashmir problem.

Currently, Uri in the Kashmir Valley and Chakan Da Bagh in Jammu’s Poonch district connect to Muzzaffarabad and Rawlakote areas respectively of Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

There are other routes like Kargil-Skardu and Jammu-Sialkote, Haji Pir, and Tithwal which were operational until 1947 before the state got divided between India and Pakistan.