Not a single visitor on cross-LoC bus19 April 2010
The Daily Excelsior
JAMMU: There was no civilian from this part of the divided State on board cross-LoC Poonch-Rawlakote weekly bus today due to delay in mandatory clearance from Pakistan's Ministry of Home Affairs to issue permits to them. Nearly 2000 people in Jammu region, mostly hailing from twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri were waiting for their turn to get permits to travel to Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) to meet divided families and relatives. However, according to official sources, the Regional Passport Officer (RPO), J&K, was unable to issue permits to the applicants in the absence of mandatory clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Pakistan. It was only after the clearance from Pakistan's Home Ministry that the citizens on this side, intending to undertake visit to PoK to meet their divided families, are issued the permits. The Home Ministry of Pakistan gets the list of intending visitors from this side and the persons they want to visit in PoK. After clearance from Pakistan, the visitors are issued permits by the RPO. A similar procedure is adopted by the Indian side for issuing permits to PoK citizens for visiting this part of the State. While the Indian side is liberal in clearing the names of PoK visitors, the Pakistan Government delayed clearance of visitors of this part of the divided State leading to delay in issuance of permits, sources said. Out of a total of 49 civilians, who crossed Chakan-Da-Bagh point in Poonch-Rawlakote weekly bus today, there was not even a single visitor from this side. There were 34 civilians on board the bus when it left Poonch for Rawlakote. All of them were PoK citizens, who returned to their homes after nearly a month long stay with their relatives in Poonch and Rajouri districts. However, from PoK 13 guests reached Poonch in the weekly bus. A total of 15 civilians were on board Rawlakote-Poonch bus service. While 13 were first time visitors from PoK to this side, two others were citizens of Poonch, who came back home after meeting their relatives in PoK. According to sources, more than 2000 civilians of Jammu region especially those hailing from parts of Poonch and Rajouri districts have applied for seeking permits to visit other side of LoC to meet their divided relatives. Some of them have been waiting for quite a long time to get the permits. 'It was due to delay in clearance by the Pakistan Government that number of the civilians, undertaking cross-LoC visit from Chakan-Da-Bagh in Poonch district, has continuously been dwindling', sources said, pointing out that at one time the number of persons crossing LoC on a day had reached 340. However, for past several months, it was hovering well below hundred. On a number of occasions, like today, there was not even a single visitor to PoK from this side in the weekly bus. .