SRINAGAR: Ahead of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir, residents of the arid Ladakh region have started ‘Open Kargil-Skardu movement’ to demand reopening of the historic road which was part of the ancient silk route that connects Kashmir with Central Asia.

Following Friday prayers, thousands of people carried out a peaceful protest demonstration in Kargil as part of ‘Open Kargil-Skardu movement’ to demand reopening of the road between Kargil and Skardu in Pakistan administered Kashmir which was closed soon after the 1947 partition of the subcontinent.

Interestingly, former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti as well as moderate Hurriyat chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq threw their weight behind the protests and urged the Government of India to reopen the historic all-weather road.

“Thousands of families have been divided due to the closure of the road. Many of our relatives have died and we could not attend their last rites. Besides, Ladakh remains cut off from the rest of the world for four to six months and this road will provide round the year connectivity which is why we have started this movement,” President of Anjuman Jamiyat Ullama Isna Ashriya Kargil (AJUIAK), Shiekh Na’Zir Mehdi Mohammadi, said.

“We urge the government of India to raise this issue with Pakistan and open Kargil- Skardu Road and Turtuk-Khapulo Road on humanitarian ground,” he added.

The issue has also brought the mainstream political parties and the separatists on a common platform with former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti coming out in support of the demand of reopening the Kargil-Skardu road.

Taking to Twitter, Abdullah said his party National Conference supports the demand and hoped that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would announce the opening of the road in his visit to Jammu and Kashmir.

“1000s march in Kargil town in support of the demand to open the Kargil-Skardu road. @JKNC_ supports this genuine demand of the people of the area & hopes that @PMOIndia will announce this important CBM when he next visits J&K,” Omar Abdullah tweeted.

Mehbooba Mufti said her party envisaged through self-rule not only opening of Kargil-Skardu but other routes also to “serve the cause of peace” beyond borders besides opening up Jammu and Kashmir to the world.

“PDP envisaged through #SelfRule not only opening of #KargilSkardu, but other routes too, to let people explore & increase contacts across borders. Such initiatives will not only open up jk to the world around us, but also serve the cause of peace beyond boundaries @jkpdp,” Mufti tweeted.

Moderate Hurriyat chief Mirwaiz also extended his support to the demand of reopening Kargil-Skardu road. Taking to Twitter, Mirwaiz said the route should be opened so that people get access to essentials in harsh winters and are able to visit their religious places.

“Support People’s march in #Kargil demanding reopening of old Kargil-Skardu route which is just 120 kms apart! All natural routes of divided state of J&K should be opened and people allowed to connect to their loved ones, have access to essentials in harsh weather conditions and be able to visit their places of worship and do commerce,” Mirwaiz tweeted.

Prime Minister Modi is scheduled to visit J&K on Sunday where he is expected to inaugurate projects worth over Rs 40,000 crores. He is expected to visit Jammu, Srinagar and Leh regions of the state.