India mulls opening 4 routes on LoC
20 October 2005
The Daily Times
New Delhi: India said on Thursday that it was still awaiting a formal proposal from Pakistan to allow Kashmiris to cross the Line of Control (LoC) for relief operations in the aftermath of the earthquake on October 8.The Indian government has also identified four routes that can be opened along the LoC to allow relief operations in the border villages of Kashmir. These routes are in the Poonch, Rajouri, Tangdhar and Uri areas. They will be opened for a 'limited period' for relief, like the temporarily restored telephone links between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, official sources said.Sources said that India was still waiting for an official communication from Islamabad on the exact method and the extent to which the LoC should be opened. Indian officials say that President Pervez Musharraf has tried to create the impression that the LoC initiative was his idea, whereas it was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who first proposed it, and he had repeated his offer three times since the earthquake hit the region on October 8.The details will be worked out once the proposal comes from Islamabad, sources said. They said that all people crossing the LoC will undergo security checks and will be allowed to cross over merely by proving their identity. 'No other formalities will be required,' they said.A data bank of people crossing over will be maintained. For the present, the government may only allow people from Jammu and Kashmir to Azad Kashmir, sources said.They said that the Poonch and Rajouri routes may be more useful in quickly transporting relief material as the roads there have not been damaged, while the Tangdhar and Uri routes can be used by locals to cross over to enquire about their relatives. The entire LoC cannot be opened as it will become unmanageable and this has been made clear to Pakistan through diplomatic channels, sources said. 'Only a few routes will be opened, which will be sufficient for sending help to earthquake victims,' said Dr DK Sankaran, the Border Management secretary in the Union Home Ministry.Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran has completed consultations senior officials including with Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee. Meanwhile, India has turned down a Pakistani proposal for establishing mobile telephone links across the LoC.