Kargil Parties Seek Quick Evacuation Of Stranded Pilgrims

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SRINAGAR: The elected members of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Kargil and several religious leaders and social activists on Tuesday sought early evacuation of the remaining pilgrims in Iran besides creation of Divisional Commissioner’s office in the mountainous district, warning that any inaction by the government will spark public agitation.

A meeting of the elected representatives, heads of religious and political organisations besides Panchayat Coordination Committee Kargil was convened at the office of Chairman LAHDC, Kargil in which several resolutions were passed unanimously and the demands were sent to Lieutenant Governor Radha Krishna Mathur for quick perusal, reports said Tuesday. The copies were also sent to External Affairs and Ministry of Health and Family welfare government of India, one member who attended the meeting told Kashmir Observer.

In the meeting, CEC said that 316 people from Ladakh were still stranded in Iran after suspension of the flights. He said that during earlier meets with the Ministry of External Affairs it was assured that SOPs for keeping the pandemic in check with regards to the pilgrims would be followed.

“However, contrary to that, no tests as per SOP have been carried out by the concerned agencies for over 70 days,” CEC said.

The meeting unanimously agreed that testing for Covid-19 as eligibility for evacuation/ discharge has been rendered redundant due to inaction for the past 70 days, reports said. The meeting called for screening of pilgrims at the airport, as is being done in the undergoing evacuation process.

“The pilgrims have been keeping exceptionally good health during this time. As per revised SOPs of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, all the confirmed Covid-19 pilgrims in Iran can be categorized as “mild/very mild/pre-symptomatic cases” for the last 70 days,” the participants said.

The meeting unanimously passed resolutions calling for “early evacuation of stranded pilgrims from Iran to Ladakh directly, failure of government in taking action in the last 70 days, and that any inaction on part of the government shall be responsible for any law and order situation that follows”.

The ongoing evacuation process in the country was also discussed in the meeting wherein all the participants expressed their resentment with the undue hurdles that rise due to the wastage of precious time in the process for routing communications through Divisional Commissioner’s office.

“It was noted that even for the permission of a single vehicle, the nod of the Divisional Commissioner presented an avoidable hurdle. With regards to the issue, the house discussed the provision of SRO 110 and SRO 120 of erstwhile state of J&K dated 08-02-2020 and 18-02-2020 that enabled the functioning of the office of the Divisional Commissioner,” reads the resolution.

“It was pointed that despite specific mentioning of the words “with its headquarters at Leh and Kargil in the SRO 120” the same has not been implemented on the ground which is proving to be a major hurdle in the evacuation process. With regards to this, the house passed the following resolution,” it adds.

The resolution further demanded that as a short term solution, office of Divisional Commissioner should be setup and made functional on war footing basis at Kargil with an exclusive OSD working with full powers to enhance the evacuation process along with accompanying staff.

Simultaneously, the resolution says that the administration of UT Ladakh must setup the complete office of the Divisional Commissioner at Kargil and the letterings of the SRO 120 be implemented on ground in letter and spirit.

The resolution signed by the representatives of religious, social, political and Panchayat bodies also demanded a time bound commitment from the UT administration as well as the government of India to mitigate the issues given the mounting public pressure.

They passed the resolution that the government of India shall be solely responsible if any untoward incident happens due to the non-resolution of the demands.

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