Saturday, July 12, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Peace journey begins
Lahore, Delhi buses cross at Phagwara
Varinder Walia

Zahoor Sabah of Jaipur, one of the passengers to travel to Pakistan by the Delhi-Lahore bus
Zahoor Sabah of Jaipur, one of the passengers to travel to Pakistan by the Delhi-Lahore bus on Friday, at the Ambedkar bus terminal in New Delhi. Sabah is going to re-unite with her husband in Lahore after eight months. — PTI photo

Wagah, July 11
The metal doors on the Wagah joint check-post flung open with a clanging sound at 8.35 a.m. today as the gold-coloured “sada-e-sarhad” (voice of frontier) Lahore-Delhi bus, carrying 27 passengers and three crew members, crossed the Redcliff Line dividing the two neighbours.

Half of the passengers in the bus, belonging to the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC), were mediapersons from leading Urdu and English organisations from Lahore and Islamabad.

Though the bus was flagged off amidst a lot of fanfare at Flettis Hotel in Lahore by Mr Rayees Ryaz Munir, Federal Minister of Tourism, no senior official of the district administration or the state government reached here to welcome the passengers.

Unlike the inaugural ride of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on February 20, 1999, to Lahore when the Jamait-e-Islami protested against the visit and forced a bandh in some shopping areas, including the famous Anarkali Bazar, no protest was held by the fundamentalists in Pakistan this time.

The drivers of the PTDC bus (LXK 2425) Amir Khan and Qazi Mohammad Azub Khan said that the step of resuming the bus service was welcomed all over Pakistan. Both drivers had the opportunity to bring the inaugural bus from Lahore to New Delhi in 1999.

Meanwhile, visa problems stopped many passengers from boarding the 43-seater bus, in which 12 seats remained vacant. Zubeda Sultan, an Indian National married in Pakistan, who came in the bus, was sore that her husband was denied visa by the Indian Embassy since he was a Pakistani national. She asked the purpose of opening the land route if visas were being denied by the Indian Embassy. She came along with her two sons — Wahid Sultan (6) and Ryaz Sultan (4). Ms Sultan said that she suffered a lot due to the suspension of the bus service as she could not attend the burial of her brother and two nephews who died in New Delhi last year.

Mr Harshad Ali, a liaison officer with the PTDC, said that people of Pakistan were hopeful that the Samjhauta Express would also resume in the coming days.

Earlier, the Amritsar police rounded up at least 20 activists of the Shiv Sena (youth wing) who were planning to stage a protest in front of the bus. They were, however, released in the evening.

JALANDHAR: The Delhi and Lahore bound buses passed off peacefully through Phagwara amid-apprehensions of trouble by some Shiv Sena workers, even as the Delhi bound bus arrived at its first halt at the Kartarpur restaurant of the Punjab Tourism Department at around 12.15 p.m. — an hour behind schedule.

Ten workers of the Shiv Sena were arrested under Section 283 of the IPC by the police authorities to ward off any problem. The Lahore-bound bus reached Phagwara at around 1.20 p.m. while the Delhi-bound bus crossed Phagwara at around 1.27 p.m. without any trouble due to the heavy deployment of the police personnel.

The security arrangements were so tight that all approach roads to the main Jalandhar-Ludhiana highway were blocked minutes before the arrival of the two buses.


They are here for better treatment of their baby
Tribune News Service

Wagah, July 11
The resumption of the Lahore-Delhi bus may give a fresh lease of life to the two-and-a-half-year-old Noor Fatima, who has two holes in her heart. Though Dr Rajesh Sharma, a heart specialist, had fixed the bypass surgery of the baby in early 2001, the operation could not take place due to the snapping of rail, road and air links with India after the attack on the Indian Parliament by Pakistan-sponsored terrorists.

Mr Nadim Sajjad and Ms Tazooba Nadim, parents of the child, had been making efforts to bring her to Bangalore via Dubai but in vain. They said the holes in the heart were due to some genetic problem. The treatment is cheaper and better in India, they added.

Meanwhile, the youngest passenger in the bus was Ranshah (seven-month-old female baby), who would meet her relatives in India for the first time. Neelophar Masood, mother of the baby, said that her grandmother in Aligarh would be extremely happy to meet Ranshah, who was born in Pakistan after the snapping of ties with India. Neelophar, who hails from Aligarh (Uttar Pradesh), was married to Mohammad Masood Yaar Khan, a resident of Karachi, about 10 years ago.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
123 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |