Second bus could start from Uri instead of Srinagar
By Iftikhar Gilani
NEW DELHI: The authorities are considering running the second bus to Muzaffarabad from the border town of Uri instead of Srinagar citing security considerations as the reason, official sources said in Srinagar on Friday.
The idea to run the bus from Uri came up because the town is “much safer” being situated in a ‘highly-sanitised’ zone and having virtually zero militant presence, sources said. The security cost would also be minimal from Uri, they added. Militant groups Al Nasireen, Al Arifeen, Save Kashmir Movement and Farzandan-e-Millat, which claimed responsibility for the attack on the tourist reception centre, have reportedly threatened passengers of the second bus too.
However, the state government is keen on running the service from Srinagar so that the title does not change from Srinagar-Muzaffarabad to Uri-Muzaffarabad, sources said. India on Friday gave broad indications of a possible agreement with Pakistan on the issue of providing joint security to the passengers travelling by the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus. After more routes are open the ambit of joint security would be widened and could involve the entire Line of Control (LoC), said an aide to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh here.
Addressing the Chief Ministers’ Conference on Internal Security, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here said it was the combined responsibility of India and Pakistan as also the local authorities on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) to ensure meaningful security cover to passengers of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service. Qualifying his statement, the aide termed it a significant step in the India-Pakistan relations. “Pakistan and India and doing many things together,” he added.
India had earlier also raised the issue of a combined patrol of the LoC to prevent infiltration. But Pakistan has consistently rejected the idea, saying instead that the United National Military Observer Group on India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) be made responsible to report infiltration.
“The recent dastardly attempt to disturb the bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad by terrorists notwithstanding, the people of Jammu and Kashmir came out on the streets as one to welcome this gesture of reconciliation,” said the Indian prime minister. “I hope the terrorists and extremists in the region have grasped the mood of the people and will not try to disturb this bus service again,” he said.
Asserting that the Indian government would deal firmly with insurgency, Prime Minister Singh said it was willing to conduct an honest and meaningful dialogue with any group that shunned violence and was ready to talk. He said the challenge of terrorism must be faced squarely and resolutely by all shades of political opinion. “There can be no political compromise with terror”, he stated.
Emphasising that human rights and dignity should not be infringed on while dealing firmly with those who have strayed from the mainstream, he said the need for a focussed, compact, multi-disciplinary group to handle such a complex issue was imperative.
Earlier, Home Minister Shivraj Patil said the internal security situation over the last year had shown a definite improvement with infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir down by 61 per cent mainly due to fencing the border, heightened surveillance and strong counter action by security forces.
SANA adds: The authorities in occupied Kashmir said India and Pakistan were yet to exchange the final list of people who would board the next bus between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad on April 21.