Muzaffarabad: The Carvan-e-Aman bus service, operating between the two parts of Kashmir, has completed ten years with over 19000 people crossing over line of control (LoC), the boundary line separating the Indian and Pakistani controlled parts of the disputed region.
Launched on April 07, 2005 between Muzaffarabad and Srinagar and later between Rawalakot and Poonch for the reunion of relatives divided by LoC over decades, the bus service has survived the often escalating tension between two nuclear armed nations of India and Pakistan.
Official sources said that tens of thousands of divided families from both sides had applied much before the start of the service to cross over to the other side but an intricate security clearing process allowed few to travel.
“7255 persons from Pakistani administrated Kashmir travelled to Indian side to see their loved ones while as 4468 persons from Jammu and Kashmir crossed the LoC through Muzaffarbad-Srinagar bus,” they said.
Rawalakot-Poonch travel started months after the Srinagar-Muzaffrabad bus service and could accommodate as many as 7550 passengers; 3996 from PaK and 3355 from Jammu through Tetrinot sector where sporadic tension between Pakistan and Indian forces suspended the weekly travel for a month.
“More than 9000 persons crossed to the other respective side from two crossing points set up at Kotli (Poonch) and Neelum valley,” the sources revealed.
Chalihan crossing point in Neelum valley witnessed the visit of 1128 guests from Indian side and 573 from Pakistani side.
Cross LoC travel and trade officials confirmed that hundreds of applications submitted for travel permit were either rejected due to security reasons or were not found genuine, that is, they had no relatives on the other side.
“The process of investigation for the divided families which takes three months cannot be shortened. Besides the emergency visits to a attend funeral can’t be allowed through intra-Kashmir bus on short notice,” they maintained.