Leh Looks To Govt For Pass To China
29 February 2004
The Indian Express
Jammu: After the Uri-Muzaffarabad road, the opening of the Ladakh-Tibet border at Demjok, Leh, is in the pipeline. This will facilitate trade in the region as it would open the pilgrimage of Kailash Mansarovar for Indian tourists. The Mufti Sayeed-led coalition government in J-K has taken up the matter with the Centre and is waiting for its approval. The CM has always maintained that he prefers opening all the international routes. The process for the Leh-Tibet road gained momentum last year when on June 23, Leh deputy commissioner, on behalf of the state government, urged the Centre to take up the matter of opening the border with China at Demjok, in a written communique to visiting Chairman Parliamentary Standing Committee. The opening of this route has historical significance. Before construction of Leh-Srinagar or Leh-Manali road, Ladakah remained landlocked and cut-off from the rest of the country. The only natural link available to people of Ladakh was to Tibet via Demchok, Chushul, Phobrang - the areas that now fall in Changthang sub-division of Leh. For centuries Demjok has been used for trade between Ladakh and Tibet. From time to time, the Ladakhi leadership have also been taking up the matter with the state government. In a proposal the state government has tried to explain how this route will help increase the trade between the two countries and bring prosperity in the region. What has led the state government to moot the proposal for opening of Demjok is that from here people will not have to negotiate big passes. Aside from this, the Chinese towns of Tashigang and Garzong are located just 35 and 150 km away from Demjok.