Omar Retraces Akbar's Route, Links Jammu And Kashmir

26 November 2009
DNA
Ishfaq-ul-Hassan

New Delhi: Precisely 423 years after Emperor Akbar used the Mughal Road to travel to Kashmir, Omar Abdullah traced his steps on Thursday. However, instead of a rough cart road, he drove along a concrete driving. He traced the footprints of the king and drove down the 83.9 km highway, which will eventually be the alternative link connecting the valley to the rest of the country. The Akbar-led Mughal army had driven up this mountainous road and defeated Yousuf Shah Chek, the king of Kashmir, in 1586 AD.Historians say a caravan of horses, chariots and foot soldiers had used this road on their historic journey. This 83.9 km road, connecting Shopian to Poonch, was later frequented by the Mughal royals and their wives who used to spend a good part of summer in Kashmir. 'It was the dream of my grandfather, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, to connect Shopian with Poonch and Anantnag with Kashtiwar. But work could not take off because there wasn't enough money. The 20-year turmoil added to the delay,' said Omar. The chief minister, who hit the road in his silver vehicle this afternoon, was grateful for the help given by the Centre. 'This would not have been possiblewithout the support of the Centre which funded the Rs639 crore needed to build the road,' he said. Omar also kept thanked his rivals and predecessors - Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Ghulam Nabi Azad - for giving their bit to this project.' 'If weather permits, the road will be thrown open in June-July next year. It will be a four-hour journey from Srinagar. It will benefit people from both sides, particularly the pilgrims who want to visit famous shrine of Shahdara Sharief in Rajouri,' he said. Work on concretising the road started in 1969, but got abandoned for some reason or the other. Finally, work was stopped in 1990, because of militancy.