Omar hails liberalised travel across divided Kashmir

July 27th, 2011 - 6:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Jammu, July 27 (IANS) Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Wednesday hailed as a “good step” the decision to allow tourism and pilgrimage related travel across the Line of Control (LoC).

Offering his first reaction on the joint statement issued after talks between the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers in New Delhi, the chief minister said in a tweet: “Good step”.

Travel across the LoC was started in April 2005 as a confidence building measure, but it was limited to the reunion of families living on the two sides of then LOC.

Since then, political parties in Kashmir, including the National Conference and People’s Democratic Party, have been demanding travel permission for all residents living in the divided Kashmir.

There are people in Jammu and Kashmir, especially Kashmiri Pandits, who want to visit places of worship in Pakistani Kashmir. Sufi shrines and mosques in the state are also a great attraction for people living in Pakistani Kashmir.

According to the statement issued in New Delhi, travel across the divided Kashmir will now “include visits for tourism and religious pilgrimage”.

Earlier, the cross-Kashmir bus service was only for families that separated after the 1947-48 war, during which Pakistan occupied a portion of Jammu and Kashmir.

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