| A quake survivor walks past Chakothi check point on the Line of Control on Sunday. (Reuters)
Nov. 6: A second peace road across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir will open tomorrow as tardy talks between India and Pakistan still make thousands of families in quake-hit villages on both sides wait to meet relatives and friends.
There were doubts on whether victims of the quake will indeed be able to meet their loved ones on either side of the LoC and inquire of their fate.
But army sources near the LoC on the Indian side said the Aman (peace) Marg crossing at Chakan da Bagh will be ready by tomorrow morning for relief materials to be exchanged.
“Exactly seven months after the Srinagar-Uri-Muzaffarabad road opened on April 7, the second Aman Marg between Poonch and Rawalkote through Shohanar and Kanchaman posts will be ready for opening tomorrow,” said brigadier general staff of the army’s 16 Corps, Brig A.K. Bakshi.
The crossing point at Kaman in Uri is likely to become usable by November 9 and at Teethwal near Tangdhar on November 10, army sources said. New Delhi and Islamabad have been talking on opening five points on the LoC though only one will open tomorrow.
Just how complicated and difficult the uneven LoC makes it for relief to be reached to the quake-hit was illustrated yet again today when a UN helicopter being used in PoK accidentally landed on the Indian side.
A defence ministry spokesman in Srinagar said the chopper landed at Uroosa helipad near Uri by mistake around 2 this afternoon. Coincidentally, Uroosa village on the Muzaffarabad road that was also devastated in the quake has been “adopted” by the Indian Air Force which is sponsoring and supervising rehabilitation.
The UN helicopter had a crew of 11 and was allowed to fly across to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir after being searched by the army. This was the second time that a UN chopper had landed on the wrong side of the LoC. On November 2, another UN chopper had landed at a makeshift helipad in Teethwal near Tangdhar.
A frisson of fear ran through PoK once again today when an aftershock of 6 on the Richter scale jolted villages and towns this morning. A total of 1,190 aftershocks have been registered by seismologists since the October 8 quake. Some of these quakes have triggered landslides in the hills.
In Islamabad, Pakistan foreign office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said it was unlikely that people will cross the LoC tomorrow because India and Pakistan have not yet completed formalities. Aslam said the lists of people wanting to cross over still have to be exchanged. This has not yet been done because of holidays for Diwali and Id. New Delhi and Islamabad reached an agreement on October 30 to open five points on the LoC.
At Poonch, army officers said it could take another week to clear the formalities. People who wish to meet relatives living across the LoC have been asked to submit applications. Following that, a process of identification will be carried out.