LoC will open for divided families only
1 November 2005
The Daily Times
Daily Times Monitor
Srinagar: Only Kashmiris who are members of families divided by the Line of Control will be allowed to cross the de-facto border when five crossing points are opened on November 7, the Kashmir Times reports. The newspaper says relief work at the five points will remain firmly in government hands. Though a public announcement of the modalities of the agreement to open the LoC has not been made - the Indian External Affairs Ministry in expected to make an announcement today - the paper has learnt that except for members of divided Kashmiri families who have undergone a security screening process, no other individual, political or non-political group, or non-government organisation will be allowed to approach the five points.An Indian defence spokesman said Hurriyat Conference leaders and NGOs intending to go to Azad Kashmir would not be allowed to cross the LoC. A political decision would have to be made at the top level of government to allow this, he said.Even the Kashmiris crossing the LoC will not be allowed to carry additional relief goods apart from their luggage, which will be of the same quantity allowed to passengers of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus, according to the Kashmir Times report.The Independent reports that Kashmiris wishing to visit relatives on the other side of the LoC will have to undergo rigorous screening by security services - a process that will take at least 10 days. Under the opening agreement, Kashmiris wishing to cross will have to submit to the same vetting process as those who took the bus service between the two sides that started in April. That involves filling out six different application forms, and many of those who applied were rejected as security risks. The two governments say aid relief, however, will be allowed through immediately when the LoC opens on November 7. The Kashmir Times reported that relief work will be carried out exclusively at a government level. The Pakistani army would forward relief goods for Indian-held Kashmir to the Indian army, which would then hand them over to the civil administration. Similarly, tents, blankets, food and medicine sent by the government of Indian-held Kashmir or New Delhi would be handed over to Indian army officers on the LoC, who would forward them to the Pakistani army, which would then distribute them in the earthquake-hit areas of Azad Kashmir.