Kashmiris welcome Damchok post opening
21 November 2006
The Daily Times
New Delhi: People in the Ladakh region of Indian-held Kashmir have welcomed the agreement between India and China to open the Damchok post for cross- border travel. Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon told reporters the two countries would also open an additional route for the Kailash Mansorver shrine, referring to the Damchok post in Leh district of Ladakh. Currently, Hindu pilgrims have to travel a long and dangerous route to reach Kailash. The historic trade route to western Tibet was closed soon after Beijing took over Tibet in 1959. Damchok will be the first Chinese contact with Indian-held Kashmir after the Gilgit-Kashgar road link. We felt chocked since the road was closed. We share a culture, faith and trade with the other side, said P Namgiyal, a Kashmiri legislator. Namgiyals senior colleague and Power Minister in Jammu and Kashmir government Rigzin Jora believes that opening of this road will change the fate of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Tsering Durje, Lehs senior leader and head of the Autonomous Hill Development Council, says he is happy that things have ultimately started moving forward. He is preparing to lay a small culvert on the Damchok rivulet. He says Chinese goods are being smuggled through this route. We have a huge market here.