There is no blockade

With separatists raising the “economic blockade” of Kashmir as a rallying point, the Centre categorically stated that the highway from Jammu was absolutely free of obstructions and that the disturbances in the Valley were actually hurdles to free movement of goods and traffic. The Centre said that the Valley protestors were being “influenced by misleading propaganda”. The government said that it was the calls for bandhs and strikes in the Valley that were affecting traffic. “The situation is being exploited to raise demands and slogans for opening the cross-LoC route for trade and movement of goods,” it said.Besides, while referring to its plan to have cross-LoC trade with Pakistan, the government said: “India is ready to commence cross-LoC trade, but awaits Pakistani willingness to implement the agreement reached in April 2005.” Contrary to the impression created by separatists, the hurdles to trade were primarily raised by Pakistan. The Centre’s response came in the wake of the need to counter the impression that an economic blockade was strangling the Valley and was part of a scheme devised by those in Jammu protesting against the withdrawal of land alloted to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board. Separatists have said that Jammu protests on the Srinagar-Jammu highway have blocked supplies to the Valley.The Jammu and Kashmir administration also countered the claim of separatists by releasing fresh data showing the smooth flow of goods and traffic on the highway. The state said 475 “load” carriers carrying essential commodities and fruits from the Valley crossed the Jawahar Tunnel during the last 24 hours.“A total of 297 load carriers with essential commodities reached Srinagar on Saturday,” said the state government. These included 68 trucks loaded with rice, three trucks with fresh fruit, two trucks with flour, 11 carrying sheep and six carrying chicken. The Centre, on the other hand while clarifying the position on initial disruptions which were there for three-four days, said: “Not only have these disruptions been cleared, but it has also been categorically stated that free movement along the national highway will be ensured.”Government, while reiterating India’s commitment to begin trade across the LoC at the earliest, said a team of senior officers also visited Jammu and Kashmir last month to study the status and infrastructure requirements on both the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakot routes. Further action to put in place the required infrastructure was already underway.Seeking to dispel a view that commencement of cross-LoC trade is getting delayed due to India, the Union home ministry in its statement issued here on Saturday said an effort was being made by some elements to try and project that there have been such delays on part of the Indian government.“The facts are otherwise, and government has been assiduously pursuing the matter as would be seen from the position brought out earlier and has, in fact, suggested further cross-LoC Confidence Building Measures which will continue to be pursued with Pakistan,” it said.

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