Voices for opening Gurez-Gilgit route go shriller
Gurez people say if need arose will meet PM Narendra Modi
People in this village have decided to call on newly elected Prime Minster, Narendra Modi, if the state and central governments fail to open Gurez-Gilgit-Skardu road for trade.
Urging the state and central governments to open this road to help improve local economy, the people here said “if need arises we will call on PM Narendra Modi in this regard.”
The residents said the road, once a part of Silk Road, was an essential link of trade between Kashmir and Central Asia. “The opening of this historical route will restore the lost glory of Gurez, Gilgit and Kashmir besides uplifting the socioeconomic condition of the area,” they said.
“The road is closed at the end of Chorwan village where Army has setup a garrison and placed foot-mines to curtail movement of locals,” they said.
”Establishment of trade route between Kashmir and Central Asia via Bandipora-Gurez-Gilgit and Skardu is one of our long pending demands. Opening of this route will help develop bilateral trade and commerce, and tourism. It will also promote cultural exchanges,” Saboor Chacha (90) of Chorwan village opined.
Recalling his childhood, Sabooor Chaha said: “When it was open, Pakistani salt, carpets of Kashgar and Askardu, besides other things, would come through this route.”
“The opening of Uri-Muzzafarabad road is a welcome step. But now the government should also open this route. It will improve the local economy,” Hashimm Samoon said.
“Before 1947, the Bandipora-Gurez-Gilgit road connecting Kashmir with Central Asia remained one of the busiest trade routes in Jammu and Kashmir during summers. The road which was used frequently by the British Army to supply its garrison in Gilgit, was also called Gilgit Transport Road,” locals said.
The road fell into disuse after the Indo-Pak conflict of 1947 when it was closed for traffic. This is the direct and the shortest route to the Northern Areas of Pakistan from Kashmir and is also the nearest link to Central Asia through the Karakoram Highway.
Famous oriental author Sir Aurel Stein who had journeyed to Gilgit via this road has mentioned the importance of this road in his book “Ancient Khotan”.
In 2012 a seven member team of experts led by Dr G N Khakhi of the Kashmir University’s Centre of Central Asian Studies after an extensive survey recommended the opening of Silk Route.