Cross-border bus service resumes

Stalemate over truck drivers continue

After remaining suspended for two weeks, the weekly Karvane-e-Aman (peace caravan) bus, operating between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) resumed on Monday. 

However, stalemate over detention of dozens of truck drivers stranded across the Line of Control (LoC) continued.

Regional Passport Officer Kashmir Firdous Iqbal said 28 passengers went to Muzaffarabad on Monday.

“Out of these, 18 were new and 10 were from PoK who had been stranded due to suspension of bus service,” he said and added 36 passengers came from PoK out of which only two were new. 

“Thirty- four were stranded in PoK due to suspension of bus service and they returned home on Monday,” Iqbal added.

Truckers stranded

However, the trade standoff continues, with truckers from both sides stranded since January 17. 

PoK authorities had suspended the cross LoC  bus service on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road to press for the release of a Pakistani truck driver arrested by Indian authorities in connection with smuggling of brown sugar worth over Rs 100 crore on January 17.

The PoK authorities also detained 27 Kashmir drivers along with their trucks at Chakoti across the LoC following recovery of the drugs on this side.

The PoK authorities refused to take back 48 drivers from their side, who remain stranded at Salamabad Uri since January 17.  After three meetings between the authorities from both the sides, it was agreed to resume the bus service from Monday. 

However, no decision was taken on resumption of trade. But both the sides agreed that they will meet on Tuesday or Wednesday again to reach to any conclusion. 

The weekly cross-LoC bus service runs every Monday. The bus service, started in April 2005 to facilitate meeting of divided families, was billed as the ‘mother of all confidence-building measures’ aimed at restoring peace in the state.

The first bus was flagged off by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 7 April 2005 despite opposition by militant organisations. Later, in 2008 trade service was started on different crossing points in the state.

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