After a long wait, 32 cross LoC to visit PoK26 April 2010
The Daily Excelsior
JAMMU: After a long gap, 32 civilians from this part of the divided State today crossed Line of Control (LoC) to visit their divided families in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) in weekly Poonch-Rawlakote bus service. Last Monday, there was not even a single visitor on board the bus from this side due to delay in issuance of permits. A total of 59 civilians today exchanged sides from cross-LoC point of Chakan-Da-Bagh in Poonch district. Reports said the Regional Passport Officer (RPO), J&K, had issued permits to 42 citizens of Jammu region including two Sikhs hailing from Gadigarh and Satwari few days back after their names were cleared by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Pakistan. However, only 32 of them turned up for boarding the bus at Poonch this morning. Ten civilians including two Sikhs-Inder Singh son of Tara Singh R-o Gadigarh and Sohan Singh son of Amar Singh R-o Satwari-didn’t turn up for visiting PoK. Reports said they probably couldn’t get ready for visiting across the LoC in such a short span of time. They will be allowed to visit PoK next week, official sources said. Before boarding the bus, Mohammad Sharief son of Gulaba, a resident of village Dhokri, Poonch, told reporters that he had applied for the permit 10 months back and was waiting for the nod to undertake cross-LoC visit everyday since then. 'Finally, I got the nod last Friday and hurriedly prepared for meeting my cousin in Kotli area of PoK’’, he said. Suhail Jan son of Qutab Din R-o Kasba, Poonch said he had purchased goods for his divided relatives, putting up in Hajeera for past six months, but couldn’t get the permit despite having applied for it several months back. 'I’m leaving for Hajeera with same goods today as I didn’t get a chance to purchase more’’, he said while boarding the bus. According to sources, this was for the first time in past nearly six months that 32 civilians left for PoK in Poonch-Rawlakote bus from this side. Last week, the number was zero and prior to that also it was hovering below 10 or 20. The number of visitors to PoK from this side had come down due to delay in clearance of the names of the visitors by Pakistan’s Home Ministry, which is mandatory for the RPO before issuing permits to the aspirants. A large number of applications were pending for the RPO for issuance of permits due to delay in clearance from Pakistan Government, sources said. Out of a total of 59 civilians, who exchanged sides at Chakan-Da-Bagh today, 54 left from Poonch to PoK. Among them, 32 were first timers from this side while 22 others were PoK citizens who left back home after completing their nearly a month long stay on this side. From PoK, five civilians reached Poonch in the cross-LoC bus including four guests from across the LoC and one returnee of this side. Raj Kumar Maini, Chief Education Officer (CEO) Poonch and Rajinder Singh, DySP DAR, Poonch besides Arshad Mirza, ACR Hajeera were present at Chakan-Da-Bagh during exchange of civilians today. .