J-K: Stay of people from PoK extended by one more week, says official


India today extended by one more week the stay of people from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) who have now been over-staying in Jammu and Kashmir following refusal by their own country to allow cross LoC and travel on the Poonch-Rawalakote road through Chakkan Da Bagh in Poonch.

This followed a request to the Union Ministry for External Affairs by the Poonch Deputy Commissioner, Ajit K Sahu, who pointed out that these people have not been able to return to their native places in PoK due to non-resumption of cross LoC bus service Rah-i-Milan this week too.

"We have extended the period of stay of PoK people over-staying in Jammu Kashmir by a week,'' Sahu said expressing hope that the bus service between the two sides may resume next Monday.

Nearly 105 residents from Jammu and Kashmir had gone to PoK on valid permit through Chakkan Da Bagh to meet their relatives. And nearly 107 residents from PoK have come to the state through the same route.

Of them, nearly 82 PoK residents have completed their period of stay in Jammu Kashmir and are now stranded here in view of the suspension of cross LoC bus service on Poonch-Rawalakote road for over a week. Similarly, the number of such people from Jammu and Kashmir now overstaying in PoK, according to officials, is around 54.

The first Poonch-Rawalkot bus in 58 years had rolled across the border from this side of the LoC on June 2006 with 30 passengers on board. It was flagged off by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi who had then said "Another wall between India and Pakistan has fallen." The first was when the Uri-Muzaffarabad road was opened. She had described it as yet another step towards peace and friendship between the two countries.

The road, an important trade link before partition, had been closed following the 1947 war. Elders recall that people even from Jhelum (now in Pakistan) used to come to Jammu and Kashmir via this road.

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