Kashmir bus on third run
MUZAFFARABAD: Buses arrived in Muzaffarabad and Srinagar on Thursday on the third run of a bus service linking the divided Kashmir.
Two buses left Srinagar in held Kashmir and another two left Muzaffarabad in Azad Kashmir, headed for the Line of Control (LoC) amid tight security.
The historic route was launched on April 7 and is intended to promote peace in the troubled region, which is claimed in full by both Pakistan and India.
The latest bus trip comes against a backdrop of rising violence in held Kashmir, where tens of thousands of people have died since the eruption in 1989 of an uprising against Indian rule. The route was checked before Thursday’s service and Indian police and army soldiers manned the entire 118-kilometre stretch of road between Srinagar and Kaman Post on the LoC.
“Before the buses set off, the road was searched for hidden landmines and booby traps by bomb squads and sniffer dogs,” held Kashmir police said.
The green and white buses that left Srinagar carried 37 passengers on the four-hour journey to the heavily militarised ceasefire line, police there said. The buses from Muzaffarabad had 41.
The buses take passengers up to the LoC but do not cross the divide. Passengers walk across a bridge over the Jhelum river and board new buses to reach Muzaffarabad and Srinagar.
Fifteen of the passengers on the Pakistani bus were returning home after travelling on one of the first two buses and were seen off by weeping relatives. “I am shocked and sad because my elder brother who came by the first bus from Srinagar is going back on this bus. We don’t know when God will give us the chance to meet again,” said Allauddin Shah, 52. afp/ap