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PM not to flag off Poonch-Rawalakot bus

PMO has communicated to the state government that Singh will not be available for the flagging off ceremony.

india Updated: Jun 14, 2006 12:08 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is unlikely to flag off the cross-Line of Control (LoC) Poonch-Rawalakot bus service from Jammu and Kashmir June 19, according to official sources.

It was widely expected that Singh would flag off the bus service -- connecting the two parts of Jammu and Kashmir as he had done on April 7 last year when he flagged off the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service - the first cross-LOC bus service after partition.

The Prime Minister's office has communicated to the state government that Singh will not be available for the flagging off ceremony, said a senior official.

However, another central government leader is likely to substitute for him. It is not immediately known as to who would be assigned the task.

"The names are being kept secret because of security reasons," the official added.

The non-arrival of Prime Minister Singh takes away much of the sheen of the bus service, for which arrangements had been made months in advance.

And the people of Kashmir, especially the divided families, have been waiting for years for this event.

Though the route has been opened by India and Pakistan for civilian traffic since November last year, in the aftermath of the Oct 8 earthquake, there has been no formal bus service.

The Poonch-Rawalakot bus service is the second cross-LoC service.

The road connecting the two parts of the state is the first in the south of Pir Panjal, just 22 km as against the 170 km Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road.

More than 25,000 divided families, living in the twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch will be the beneficiaries of this bus service.

First Published: Jun 14, 2006 12:08 IST