November 2005 News

India, Pakistan Open Fourth Kashmir Crossing

14 November 2005
Agence France-Presse

Line of Control: India and Pakistan opened a fourth crossing Monday along the de facto border splitting earthquake-ravaged Kashmir but allowed only humanitarian supplies across and not civilians. Indian officials say they expect the first Kashmiris to cross the border known as the Line of Control soon but the two sides have not yet set a date. Indian and Pakistani officials smiled and shook hands at the crossing opening. 'The Tatta Pani-Mendher crossing on the Line of Control in Kashmir opened at 10:30 am (0530 GMT),' a senior Pakistani military official said in the area. Tatta Pani is on the Pakistani side and Mendher is in the Indian zone. Afterwards porters carried across heavy sacks containing blankets, rations and other relief, for quake-hit families on both sides. No Kashmiri civilians were permitted to cross the heavily militarized border. 'They exchanged two trucks each of relief goods,' the Pakistani official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The neighbours agreed to open five crossing points to aid humanitarian efforts following the October 8 quake that killed over 73,000 people in Pakistan and its part of Kashmir and 1,300 people in Indian Kashmir. Pakistani police used tear gas to hold back villagers who wanted to cross the frontier when the first crossing opened a week ago, an action that angered Kashmiris. The two countries have yet to exchange and approve lists of people who will be allowed to cross to help relatives and friends on the other side. 'Civilians will soon be crossing this line. The purpose of opening these points is to allow Kashmiris to meet each other during this crisis,' said an Indian army official who declined to be named. The two countries opened the first crossing along the Line of Control on November 7 in Poonch district, followed two days later by another in the Uri sector. The third crossing at Titwal was opened on Saturday. The move to open the crossing places after almost 60 years was seen as a boost to the slow-moving peace process between the historic enemies, who have fought two of their three wars over the scenic region. The fifth and final crossing is due to open Wednesday. However the openings are largely symbolic as only a limited amount of aid is coming through. Continued violence by guerrillas fighting New Delhi's rule in Indian Kashmir following the quake has undermined some of the optimism.


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