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'We are determined to take our trucks through PoK'
Krishnakumar P in Srinagar
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August 10, 2008 19:54 IST

Fruit growers in the Kashmir Valley on Sunday said they are determined to take their trucks via Muzzafarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and route their produce into India from there.

PDP to join fruit growers' march across LoC

"Some elements and parties have used the national highway as a weapon to further their interests. We will not be deterred by this. We are determined to take our trucks through PoK," Ghulam [Images] Rasool, the chairman of the fruit growers association, said.

"Politicians are doing this for their gain. Why are poor farmers harassed for this? What will we do if our produce rots here," he asked.

Pics: In Jammu, a tangled tale is written in blood

Trucks laden with fruits worth hundreds of crores have been unable to leave Jammu and Kashmir [Images] for close to a month after the Amarnath land agitation began, with protestors in Jammu blocking the national highway opening into to the rest of India.

Though authorities have been saying that there is no economic blockade and that the highway is free for use, truckers of the Valley are not convinced.

Land row: Hurriyat ready to find a solution

"How can we trust them after the violence there? This is something that did not happen even during the darkest days of militancy. Those days, we did not have fertilisers, and when there were other problems, we have never had to stop the supply of our produce. Now this has happened," Rasool said.

He, however, said that fruit growers are merely routing the produce through PoK and that they are not going to sell the fruit there.

Jammu is not for burning

"Our produce must reach New Delhi [Images]. That is our only aim. Because of the current situation, we are taking this route. I request the central government to facilitate this and not thwart our attempts," he said, adding that they have always had good intentions towards the people of Jammu and India.

"Our problem is not with the people of Jammu and we have always seen the rest of India, as our friends. After all, it is they who buy our products," he said.

Sentiments of people must not be hurt: Patil

Authorities in Srinagar [Images], however, have stepped up security and are unlikely to allow the truckers to take the PoK route.
Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil [Images], who was in Srinagar for talks with leaders of political parties in Kashmir, also appealed the truckers not to take this move. It is neither in their interest nor the nation's interest, he said.

Earlier, Patil, who is heading a central team comprising all the parties, visited Jammu on Saturday, where talks with the Shri Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti were inconclusive.

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