The Uri militant attack may have ratcheted up tensions between India and Pakistan but a crucial bus service between the two nations remains unaffected and is operating on schedule, though cloaked in unusually heavy security.
The weekly Carvan-e-Aman (procession of peace) bus service operates between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and was launched in 2005 to allow relatives of families to cross the Line of Control and see their loved ones.
Since then, thousands of families have crossed the border on ‘travel permits’.
On Monday, the Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation bus ferried eight passengers from Srinagar through Uri towards the Aman Setu (peace bridge) that leads to PoK.
Officials said five of the passengers were from PoK who were going back after visiting relatives in India while three others were local residents travelling to Muzaffarabad.
“The bus went smoothly. Thankfully there was no effect on the service after Sunday’s attack,” said Baramulla deputy commissioner Nasir Ahmad Naqash. Sources added that the security cover was bolstered after the Uri attack.
One man from PoK on the bus said he had to cut short his visit because of the rising tensions. “The situation became bad, that is why I am returning early. Otherwise, I had planned to stay for 15 more days,” he said, requesting to not be identified.
He condemned the attack by militants on the Uri base. “The attacks like these are not good for any side. These things stop the peace process between the two sides. These things should neither happen on this side nor on the other side,” he said.
Sunday’s attack on the Uri military base left 18 soldiers dead and more than 19 injured, the worst strike on the army in years. The attack triggered calls for a fierce retaliation, with top ministers holding Pakistan responsible for the strike.