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Trade, students, MLAs: Mehbooba pitches for more cross-LoC exchanges

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today said the PDP would not allow the closure of cross-LoC trade and continue to work towards opening more routes across the Line of Control with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Addressing a large rally on the 18th foundation day of the People’s Democratic Party here, Mehbooba also pitched for nominating members to the legislative assembly from the other side of LoC so that joint meetings could be held once in a year.
“There are many difficulties through the Wagah border, charas and ganja comes from there but no one talks about closing it. Just because a mistake happens on the Srinagar- Muzaffarabad road, we should not talk about closing it. We will not allow that to happen,” the chief minister said.
On July 21, police seized 66.5 kg of heroin and brown sugar worth Rs 300 crore from a truck coming from PoK.
There have also been reports that the NIA, which is probing terror funding in Kashmir, may recommend closure of trade along cross-LoC routes.
“We are in favour of opening more routes. There should be facilities like banking there (at crossing points). There should be (full) body scanners (for trucks) so that we know what is coming in and what is going out from here,” she said.
“What we in PDP have achieved since 2002 needs to be taken forward,” Mehbooba added.
Discussing the idea of a joint legislature for undivided Jammu and Kashmir, she said, “There are seats reserved in our assembly for that Kashmir. We should decide together to make nominations for those seats. We should decide that this assembly meets once in this Kashmir and once in that Kashmir every year so that we can talk about tourism, travel and opening of Sharda Peeth.”
The PDP president also spoke about student exchanges.
“I appeal to people on the other side of Kashmir. Come and send your children on a 15-day tour here and we will send our children there. They will see how we live here and our children will see how they live there.”
The chief minister appealed to all mainstream parties, including coalition partner BJP and the opposition National Conference and Congress, to put their heads together and find a way to end bloodshed in Kashmir.
“I appeal to all parties- be it National Conference, Congress, BJP, Communists or any other party- let us sit together and find a solution to the problems of Jammu and Kashmir. We are one, we are the same. (When) anyone is killed, it is a Kashmiri, be it a policeman or an innocent pedestrian.”
She said she appealed to Farooq Abdullah (NC), Ghulam Nabi Azad (Congress) and the leadership of the BJP to help “heal the pain of Kashmiris”.

“You cannot imprison an idea, you cannot kill an idea.” Referring to her father and PDP chief Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, she said he would often say Kashmir is besieged and should be set free by the opening of roads like Kargil-Skardu, Jammu-Sialkot and Leh-Xinjiang.
The chief minister sought the support of the people and her party workers in helping the state out of its present state of uncertainty.
The PDP was founded on July 28, 1999 but the party decided to defer the foundation day celebrations by a day in deference to the Friday prayers.

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