LoC bus service resumes after 2 weeks

Baramulla: The Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service resumed on Monday after remaining suspended for two weeks due to a standoff between Indian and Pakistani governments over the arrest of a Pakistani driver here.
Sixty-four passengers’ swapped sides through the Line of Control in Uri sector here—28 passengers, including 18 fresh, crossed over to Muzaffarabad, while 36 passengers, including two fresh, crossed into this side of the LoC.
“The bus service resumed on Monday afternoon. We’re hopeful that the 27 Kashmiri drivers detained in Muzaffarabad will return home soon. We’ll soon hold talks with Pak authorities about it,” Deputy Commissioner (DC), Baramulla, Ghulam Ahmad Khwaja told Kashmir Reader.
Pakistani authorities had suspended the LoC bus and the truck service as well since January 20 demanding release of a Pakistani driver and his vehicle from which 114 packets of brown sugar worth Rs 100 crore were recovered.
Later, the Pakistani side detained 27 drivers along with their trucks at Chakoti across the LoC to press for their demand. Forty-eight drivers from Pakistan are also stranded at Salamabad Trade Facilitation Centre since the standoff began.
Kashmir’s Divisional Commissioner Shailender Kumar told media in Srinagar that the Pakistani authorities are now not insisting on the return of the arrested driver.
“They are now asking for copies of the FIR lodged against the arrested driver and they have also asked for copies of the investigation report in the case. There should be no problem with giving them a copy of the FIR once somebody applies for it,” said Kumar.
He said, “As far as the copies of investigations (case diaries) by the police are concerned, these are property of the court and hence cannot be given by us”. Kumar, however, hoped that the cross-LoC trade would resume within the next few days.
The officials from two sides held several meetings to break the deadlock and during the latest round of talks on January 30 decided to resume the bus service. They also decided to continue the talks to work out a solution to the impasse in the trade.
The LoC bus service, billed as the ‘mother of CBMs’ on Kashmir between India and Pakistan, was launched amid much fanfare in April 2005 while the trade began in October 2008.