Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah repeated history on Thursday by using the ancient 84-km Shopian-Bafliaz stretch of the Mughal road that connects Kashmir and Jammu regions.
Realising his grandfather Sher-e-Kashmir, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah’s dream, the 39-year-old today’s ruler of the strife torn state drove in a cavalcade from Dubjan to Peer Ki Gaali on the road favoured by Mughal rulers of yore.
“It is after 400 years that a ruler is travelling the road. It is a historic occasion. An occasion never to be forgotten… It was my grandfather Sher-i-Kashmir Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah’s dream which has been realised today. The feeling cannot be expressed through words,” said Abdullah, after his long drive.
He formally threw open the Mughal Road, which has carved through tough mountain ridges, by blasting vast stretches of Pir Panchaal range. Inclement weather in the morning had forced the chief minister to cancel his chopper ride from Srinagar to Dubjan, 80 km away. He drove this stretch too.
The Mughal road will join Kashmir with Poonch and Rajouri districts of the Jammu division. It will take only four hours to reach Jammu region. Otherwise it takes nine hours from Srinagar to reach Jammu and another eight hours to reach Bafliaz, the other end of the Shopian road.
“But it won’t be an all-weather road because of heavy snowfall in the area,” said the Chief Minister, while driving on a bumpy stretch with a gorge roaring on one side with the Hindustan Times team on the backseat. “We need to dig a tunnel near Peer Ki Gaali to make it an all-weather road”
The road, which is very slippery on one side because of snow and ice, has not been macadamized yet. “This is an ideal stretch for my dirt bike. I would love to drive on these roads on my bike.”
When asked how cavalcade of Omar Abdullah was different than those of the Mughal emperors, who use to move with a chain of horses, closed palkies and horses? Omar retorted: “Theirs would had be little slow than ours because we use four wheelers with heating system. But Mughal emperor’s journey must have been regal and he had not to worry about jammers and all.”
The road will give flip to economy in this underdeveloped area and have significant social impact. “This place is no less beautiful than Pahalgam and Gulmarg and can be developed as tourist spot, promote historical tourism. I think we can use some ranges for skiing in the area,” said the Chief Minister, who was at ease negotiating blind curves and ditches even as he chatted with Hindustan Times.
1969: The Mughal road pJ&K CMroject was conceived
1977: Taken up for execution
1990: After completing 30-km stretch, work had to be stooped because
of the militancy
1998: Former Prime Minister I.K.Gujral announced the construction of the road
2006: An NGO files petition against the project saying it will
deteriorate condition of wild animals’ habitation.
2007: The Supreme Court gave the project go-ahead later
2009: Thrown open to light vehicles