India and Pakistan Monday opened the first frontier posts on the Line of Control for quake relief operations in Kashmir, but the event was marred as Pakistani police lobbed tear gas shells to quell surging mobs trying to cross the divide.
Hundreds of locals converged on this remote post to witness the historic occasion in a bid to meet their relatives separated for nearly half a century as the army officers of the two sides exchanged white flags and hugged each other to formally declare open the post.
A surcharged crowd on the Pakistani side chanting slogans tried to cross into the Indian side prompting the police to fire tear gas shells to stop their advance.
According to witnesses two persons were arrested even as police denied that it had fired in the air and anyone was injured in the melee.
Commenting on the incident, Brigadier A K Bakshi, the commander on the Indian side said, "People have expressed their happiness. We have to control them. But it should not be seen as something wrong has happened".
A senior police official from Jammu said, "Probably there was some confusion on the other side and we saw many people had gathered and it was getting difficult to control them. The police there had to use tear gas and fire in the air."
The officials made it clear that only relief material would be exchanged at the posts today and that movement of people would take another one week till they obtained the necessary clearance.
"Today what we have come here for is to basically to transport relief material across the LoC," Divisional Commissioner of Jammu region, B L Sharma said adding that trucks carrying rice, tents and medicines, had been lined up on either side for transportation.
Earlier Brigadier Bakshi and his Pakistani counterpart Tahir Naqvi exchanged white flags and hugged each other.
"It's a good feeling," army officer Santanu Ghose said after shaking hands with Pakistani Colonel Ali Khan across the white ribbon marking the LoC.
India and Pakistan have decided to open three points on LoC to facilitate relief work in the wake of the October 8 quake which devestated both sides of Kashmir killing thousands of people.
The crossing point at Kaman in Uri will open on November 9 while Tithwal in Tangdhar will open on November 10.
All the three points were to open today but operationalisation of the other points has been delayed due to non-completion of work, including laying and clearing roads of landslide debris and de-mining in the areas.