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India offers to open three relief centres

Amit Baruah

Pakistan quake victims can cross LoC during daylight hours


  • Centres could become operational by Oct. 25
  • Indian nationals can meet relatives from across LoC at camps
  • Pakistani victims coming for treatment will be given accommodation

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    NEW DELHI: New Delhi has informed Islamabad of its proposal to open three relief and medical centres on Indian territory to help earthquake victims living across the Line of Control (LoC), the External Affairs Ministry spokesman said on Saturday.

    Quake-hit persons can cross over to the Indian side during daytime. After getting Islamabad's green signal, India will open the relief centres or camps near the Kaman post close to Aman Setu (Uri sector), Tithwal (Tangdhar) and Chakandabagh (Poonch). These are expected to be operational by October 25.

    Indians would be free to go to the camps to meet their relatives from the other side of the LoC, the spokesman said at his briefing here. India would arrange for accommodation for residents from the Pakistani side of the LoC so that they could stay overnight.

    The plan to open the three points was in line with the April 18 agreement with Pakistan to allow the divided families to cross the LoC at the designated places to meet relatives.

    The spokesman said genuine residents from the Pakistani side of the LoC would be allowed to come across to the Indian side. Some appropriate screening would be conducted.

    Soon after the October 8 earthquake, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh conveyed to Pakistan that New Delhi would undertake relief operations in areas on the Pakistani side of the LoC, which have better access from the Indian side.

    On October 15, India permitted Pakistani helicopters to fly close to the LoC provided permission was taken case-by-case. However, Islamabad did not respond to the Indian offer to conduct relief operations on the Pakistani side.

    Pointing out that India had promptly welcomed Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's proposal for greater civilian movement across the LoC, the spokesman said: "We have said that we are waiting for practical suggestions for implementing that proposal. That is a proposal, which has been in line with our policy of closer people-to-people contact across the LoC. This is a follow-up from our side. This is a continuous development of the policy of suggestions to see how we can quickly reach out to the earthquake-affected people. Naturally, this can happen only with the agreement of both governments."

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