‘Cross LoC People-to-People Contacts Need to go Beyond Divided Families’



CM Mufti Sayeed looking across LoC at Salamabad on Thursday.
CM Mufti Sayeed looking across LoC at Salamabad on Thursday.

Describing cross-LoC travel as one of the most significant CBMs between India and Pakistan, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Thursday said the people-to-people contacts need to go beyond divided families. For this, he urged upon the Central Government to consider greater and hassle-free to-and-fro movement of cultural troupes, students, pilgrims and tourists across the Line of Control, an official statement said this evening.

The Chief Minister said this during his visit to Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC), Salamabad, Uri, where he announced several decisions to strengthen the cross-LoC trade and travel. He also visited Kaman Post, 10 years after cross-LoC travel began in 2005 during his first tenure as the Chief Minister of the State.

Mufti Sayeed is also scheduled to visit Chakan-da-Bagh, in Poonch, tomorrow to take similar review of the cross-LoC trade and travel.

In a high-level meeting to strengthen cross-LoC trade and travel held at Salamabad, the Chief Minister directed the Principal Secretary, Home, to coordinate with MHA and expedite the clearance of proposed visit of trade delegation to Muzaffarabad for trade-related discussions. It was informed in the meeting that two trade delegations from across have already visited J&K. However, no delegation from this side has paid a reciprocal visit.

The Joint Secretary, MEA, stated that the matter will be taken up in the next meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) between India and Pakistan, the statement said.

On the issue of multiple-entry permit for cross-LoC travellers, the Chief Minister issued directions to Home Department to examine the issue in consultation with the Ministry of External Affairs.

The Chief Minister observed that telecom and banking facilities are vital to conduct of cross-LoC trade. He requested the Central Government to take up the issues related to banking facilities in the next meeting of Joint Working Group between India and Pakistan.

The Chief Minister also desired that the modalities between MHA and BSNL should be finalized soon to provide ISD facility to traders on both sides of the LoC.

Mufti Sayeed further emphasized that the demands of the traders for including additional items in the tradable list should be finalized in the meeting of the Joint Working Group at an earliest so that the scope of cross-LoC trade is further broadened.

The Chief Minister also directed that a Single Window Clearance Mechanism should be immediately put in place to ensure hassle-free movement of passengers and trucks. For this purpose, SDM Uri was tasked to perform additional duties as Nodal Officer, till such time regular arrangement is made.

Placing high priority on development of infrastructure facilities for all stakeholders, the Chief Minister asked MD JKTDC to work out the modalities for transfer of land for setting up of residential accommodation for officers of civil and police administration, which are essentially required to be stationed at Salamabad.

Mufti Sayeed also assigned J&K Police the responsibility of providing fool-proof security clearance to trucks at Salamabad, as per the SoP. He also directed MD, JKTDC to make the cafeteria within the TFC premises functional immediately.

 The Chief Minister directed the authorities to make suitable arrangements for parking of vehicles at TFC Salamabad and creation of additional Hall. He urged upon the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of External Affairs to sanction detailed project for infrastructure up-gradation, in particular, procurement of full body scanners to make movement of people and goods across the LoC smooth.

It was given out in the meeting that the Ministry of MEA will take up in the next Joint Working Group meeting, the issue of proper sealing and dispatch of trucks to eliminate chances of loading of contrabands that hinder cross-LoC trade.

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