Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service resumes, trade remains suspended

  • Toufiq Rashid Toufiq Rashid, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
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  • Updated: Feb 03, 2014 20:36 IST

Seventeen days after it was suspended following a row over the seizure of narcotics from a vehicle at Salamabad, the cross-border bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarbad resumed on Monday, even as trade between India and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) remains suspended.

"The bus service was resumed today, but the trade across the Line of Control (LoC) remains suspended," Kashmir divisional commissioner Shailender Kumar said on Monday, adding that talks were on to restart the trade.

The bus from the Indian side was carrying 28 passengers, including 10 PoK residents who were returning home after visiting their relatives in the Valley, and 18 Indian citizens headed for their relatives' houses in PoK.

The bus service was suspended on January 17, after security agencies and the Jammu and Kashmir Police seized 114 packets of brown sugar worth `100 crore from a truck coming from PoK at Salamabad in Uri.

The driver of the vehicle, a resident of Muzaffarabad, was detained by police. Pakistan authorities closed the border, demanding his release, leading to the suspension of the bus service and leaving 48 PoK drivers stranded at Salamabad and 27 Indian drivers stranded in PoK.

Meanwhile, trade between Jammu and Kashmir and PoK continues to remain suspended.

"We hope for an early resumption of the trade, as the Pakistani side has shown signs of compromise by not insisting that we hand over of the driver or the seized narcotics," said Kumar.

He added that talks were on between the officials of both countries to resume trade in a few days.

Relieved, PoK resident wants to return someday

For 90-year-old PoK resident Fatiya Begum, the resumption of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service is a welcome step. Fatiya, who was here to visit her relatives, was supposed to travel back to the other side on January 20, but was left stranded in India after the stand-off began. "I was happy, as well as worried by the cancellation. I got more time to stay, but was fearing that I might get stuck here permanently," she said, adding that she would return to the Valley if "life permitted".


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