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Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

Drivers want resumption of Indo-Pak bus services

Gurnam Singh, 43, who drove the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus to Lahore is upset with the action of the neighbouring country of suspending the service after India’s action of revoking Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu & Kashmir and bifurcating the state into two union territories — Ladakh and J&K.

punjab Updated: Aug 15, 2019 08:14 IST
Anil Sharma
Anil Sharma
Amritsar
File photo of an Amritsar-Lahore Bus in Amritsar.
File photo of an Amritsar-Lahore Bus in Amritsar.(HT Photo)
         

He has been one of the most frequent travellers crossing over to Pakistan through the Attari-Wagah border — thrice a week.

Gurnam Singh, 43, who drove the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus to Lahore is upset with the action of the neighbouring country of suspending the service after India’s action of revoking Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu & Kashmir and bifurcating the state into two union territories — Ladakh and J&K.

Gurnam, a resident of Udhowal village in Batala sub-division of Gurdaspur district, which is near the Pakistan border, wants the neighbouring country to resume the bus services for the convenience of the people of both the nations.

Pakistan on Saturday suspended the Delhi-Lahore and Nankana Sahib-Amritsar bus services. India too followed suit.

“I have been working with the DTC for the past 10 years and was deployed to drive the Delhi-Lahore bus in January this year. People of both the countries, who have relatives living in India and Pakistan, will be harassed by the suspension of the bus service,” Gurnam said.

“On an average, 20 to 30 passengers from both the sides used to travel in the bus. They used to tell me that the bus service was a boon for them. It provided them an opportunity to meet their relatives who have been separated since Partition. On Friday, I drove the bus last time to Lahore ferrying 26 passengers — 12 Pakistanis and 14 Indians,” said Gurnam

The Delhi-Lahore bus, also known as Sada-e-Sarhad — a symbol of desired friendship between the two nations — was launched on February 19, 1999. Then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee boarded the bus in its inaugural run to attend a summit in Lahore. He was received by his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif at Wagah.

Under the trans-border service, the DTC bus to Lahore operated from the Ambedkar Stadium bus terminal near the Delhi Gate. The bus plied every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Similarly, the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) used to run a bus from Lahore to Delhi every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

The driver of Punjab Roadways Punj-Aab bus — which used to run between Amritsar and Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of first master of Sikhs Guru Nanak, in Pakistan — Harinder Singh, 55, also wants resumption of the service.

“I had been driving the bus since 2015. Earlier, 30 to 35 passengers used to travel in the bus, but the count dipped in the last few a months. The service should be resumed keeping in mind the feelings of devotees of both the countries. It is the fastest mode to connect two holy cities divided since Partition. It is disappointing that the service has been suspended in the 550th birth anniversary year of Guru Nanak,” said Harinder, a resident of Amritsar.

The Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus service, which started on March 24, 2006, was flagged off by then prime minister Manmohan Singh. The bus carrying 40 passengers, mostly officials, linked the ancient historic cities in both the countries after 59 years of Partition. Pakistan reciprocated by starting the Dosti bus the same year.

The Punj-Aab bus used to depart from the international terminal of Punjab Roadways in Amritsar at 9.30am on Tuesdays and Fridays and return on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Similarly, the Dosti bus, run by the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation, used to come from Pakistan on the same days and return the next day.

First Published: Aug 14, 2019 22:24 IST

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