November 2005 News

Fifth relief point opened in Uri

16 November 2005
The Hindu
Shujaat Bukhari

Silikot (LoC): SILIKOT (LOC): The fifth and last relief point for the exchange of relief material along the Line of Control (LOC) was opened here on Wednesday. The opening of the point, attended by scores of civilians, was an emotional event. At about 12.30 p.m., Col. Gyan Mishra of the Army and Lt. Col. Basit Irfan of the Pakistan Army met and opened the relief centre on Haji Peer (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir ) and Silikot (Uri). This was followed by a meeting between the Relief Commissioner of Uri, Bashir Ahmed Runiyal and his counterpart on the PoK side, Shakeel Ahmed Khan. Later, porters began exchanging tents, blankets and food items. 'This is being done with a spirit to help the affected people on each side and will continue indefinitely,' said Mr. Runiyal. He said people would be allowed to cross the LOC from November 24. 'The mechanism for allowing civilians to meet each other is being worked out,' he said. Mr. Khan, who crossed over to this side, told reporters that more than the quantity of material, 'the gesture with which two countries are moving forward' mattered. Asked about the delay in allowing people to cross the LOC, he said, 'We are fully ready from our side, we have even prepared the procedure to help people to people contact.' Opening of the Silikot-Hajipeer point was a major challenge for authorities as the area is heavily mined. An Army officer said de-mining to ensure smooth passage of relief material took time. At the relief point, there were emotional scenes as relatives separated by the LOC recognised each other. Begam Jan of Silikot broke down after recognising her brother Ghulam Nabi Chalkoo and his son Mohammad Iqbal. 'What can be more painful for us as we see each other but cannot meet,' she said. She said people should be allowed to meet as soon as possible. Khaleel Jo, another Silikot resident, said, 'I have my cousins and my maternal uncle there and I thought I may get a chance to see them.' Many said they were worried about the welfare of their relatives across the LOC. 'We have no information about them, whether they are alive or not. We are desperate to see them,' said Mohammad Yusuf.


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