Says more contact points being opened between India, Pakistan
JAMMU: Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti Thursday joined thousands of devotees who thronged the shrine of Baba Chamliyal near the International Border (IB) in Ramgarh sector of district Samba to observe the annual Mela of the mystic saint. Member Parliament, Jugal Kishore Sharma, Minister for Industries & Commerce, Chander Parkash Ganga and Minister of State for Tourism, Priya Sethi accompanied the Chief Minister.
Every year devotees from India and Pakistan converge at the border near the sanctum sanctorum to pay obeisance to Baba Chamliyal who holds great reverence for the people from both the countries for being a common saint of friends and foes.
While Pakistani Rangers offered Chaddar for the shrine on behalf of the people of Sialkote, BSF and civil administration of Samba handed over Shakkar and Sharbat (holy soil and water) to Rangers for distribution among people on the other side of the border.
Felicitating the people on both sides of the border for exhibiting affectionate cultural bonding during the Mela, the Chief Minister said Chamliyal village would be developed as a part of the Government’s initiative to promote border tourism in the State. She also pitched for opening new cross-border meeting points to expand people-to-people contact in the region.
Stressing the need for reviving the process of India-Pakistan reconciliation, Mehbooba said this is imperative towards bringing about peace in Jammu and Kashmir and beyond. “We are working with the Government of India for opening Suchetgarh-Sialkote, Kargil-Skardu, Nowshera-Mirpur and some other roads to expand people-to-people contact,” she said and added that Suchetgarh has the potential of becoming J&K’s Wagah, as was envisioned by her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.
She said in the long run Suchetgarh can become a trading point like Salamabad and Chakan-da-Bagh with the neighbouring country.
Interacting with media persons, Ms Mehbooba called for highlighting the cultural camaraderie that exists between the people of India and Pakistan. The Chief Minister said cultural affinity across the two regions is too strong to resist. “I hope our good intentions are reciprocated by our neighbour,” she said and added that people-to-people contact should be encouraged to remove mistrust and create a congenial atmosphere for dialogue and reconciliation.