Karvan-e-Aman bus to Muzaffarabad completes 3 years

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Srinagar, Apr 7 (UNI) The trans-border ''Karvan-e-Aman'' bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK), completes three years today, which enabled thousands of divided families to meet each other after more than six decades.

The service continued despite threats held by militant outfits to attack the passengers.

However, the bus service had to be suspended for four long months following the massive earthquake that hit the two sides of the Line of Control, which killed over 70,000 people on the POK side while over 1,400 were killed on this side, on October 8, 2005.

The quake had completely destroyed the Aman Setu bridge and the road on the two sides of the bridge as landslides rolled down and an entire mountainside caved in on other side of the road.

The inaugural service was flagged off in Srinagar by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on this day in 2005, and more than 6000 passengers have undertaken the trans-border journey so far.

The State Road Transport Corporation, which runs the buses for the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad travel, had to add nine Ashoka Leyland buses fitted with stereo music systems, plush upholstery and air-conditioners to cater to passenger needs for the historic travel.

These buses have to be handed over to the security agencies two days ahead of the scheduled travel date for security reasons and sanitisation, which adds to the overheads of the corporation.

The Karvan-e-Aman service runs once a fortnight.

A week before the inaugural run of the service four militant groups -- Al-Nasreen, Al-Arifeen, Farzandane Milat and Save Kashmir Movement -- threatened to attack the bus and its passengers.

However, a day before the start of the service, militants attacked Tourist Reception Centre (TRC) where the passengers for Muzaffarabad were staying. The entire TRC was gutted but the passengers escaped unhurt in the attack.

Passengers from this side had to deboard the buses near Aman Setu and cross the bridge on foot to other side where they board POK buses for Muzaffarabad.

Similarly passengers from POK had also to cross the bridge on foot to reach this side of the boarder.

UNI BAS SP BD1755

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