SRINAGAR – The weekly bus, which was operating between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, two capital cities of divided Kashmir to help state subjects from both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) to meet each other, has now become a history.
The state has now been downgraded and divided into two UTs — Ladakh region and Jammu and Kashmir—after centre scrapped Article 370 and 35, making the State Subject irrelevant.
Decision to resume the bus service labeled as Karvan-e-Aman (Caravan of Peace) for the families (state subjects from both sides), divided in 1947 due to partition, was taken by India and Pakistan in 2005 and the first cross-LOC bus was flagged from Srinagar and Muzaffarabad on April 7, 2005.
However, it was decided that only state subjects from both sides will be allowed to travel in the bus on “Travel Permits” instead of International Passports. It was also decided that travel of a person would be allowed only after his or her name will be cleared from the intelligence agencies from both the countries. People from Jammu and Kashmir were travelling to Wagah in Punjab and Delhi to travel to other side of the LoC in Pakistani side of Kashmir on International Passports before introducing the bus. However, the route remained shut for residents of other areas of India and Pakistan since 1947.
Despite opposition by militant groups, majority separatist leaders, barring hardline Hurriyat Conference (HC) Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) chief Shabir Ahmad Shah, travelled in the bus to Muzaffarabad.
During the past 14 years, the bus service was suspended on several occasions, including due to snowfall and landslides on other side of the LoC.
The last cross-LoC bus on this route operated on February 25. Later a message was received from Muzaffarabad that bus cannot operate on March 4 due to some repair on Aman Setu bridge in Uri sector.
The bus could not be resumed as no fresh message was received from Muzaffarabad about repair of the bridge. However, residents of two parts of Kashmir who got struck due to suspension of the bus on March 4 were allowed to travel in the next week.
The bus has helped thousands of divided families to meet each other since its introduction.
Later, in 2008 Cross-LoC trade was also introduced for the first time since 1947. The trade was also suspended on March 4 and later cancelled after Union Home Ministry issued an order that it was being used for terror funding.
Over a dozen cross-LoC traders were questioned and some of them detained in terror funding cases by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).