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Kaman Bridge all set for historic event
‘Enemy’ signboards disappear
Ehasn Fazili
Tribune News Service

Kaman Bridge (LoC), April 5
Less than 48 hours from now, this bridge divided by the LoC will be witness to a historic event when the bus service begins on the Srinagar-Uri-Muzaffarabad road after 58 years. This bridge over KD Nullah, being painted in white from green, has been named as Aman Setu or the “bridge of peace”.

Final touches are being given to everything that is required for the grand occasion on Thursday when Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh flags off the bus from Srinagar. There is a flury of activity along the 18-km-long stretch between this last post and the border town of Uri, so that all is in place before the arrival of visitors from the other side of the LoC”.

This last post has been named after Lieut-Col Kaman Singh Pathania, during whose tenure as head of the Uri Sector this post was established about 50 years ago in 1956.

The sound of the roaring guns has been replaced by the excited chatter of labourers from neighbouring villages. These labourers have two reasons for their enthusiasm — one, there is hope that peace will prevail and second no guns will boom threaten their lives and livelihood.

There are no warning signboards and no barriers to prevent movement. Signboards of “enemy posts” have been replaced by new ones to welcome the much-awaited visitors, mostly members of “divided families”.

The new slogans read as: “Welcome to Uri, the paradise of valley”, “Religion does not preach hatred.”

Finance Minister Muzaffar Hussain Beigh, Tourism, Housing and Urban Development Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir and Food and Supplies Minister Taj Mohiuddin today reviewed the work on the road and other related matter ahead of the historic event.

Mr Beigh of the PDP represents Baramula constituency Mr Mir (PDP) the Tangmarg constituency and Mr Taj Mohiuddin (Congress) represents Uri constituency falling in Baramula district. Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed led the series of visits when he first arrived to review the arrangements and progress of work on March 13 last, after the Indo-Pak agreement on beginning the bus service was announced in Islamabad on February 16.

Work is also in progress on the other side of the bridge where men and machinery from Pakistan are engaged in completing work on resurfacing the road leading to the bridge on their side. Two thirds of the bridge is under the occupation of India, while the rest of it is with Pakistan.

“Work is on in final stages and everything will be completed on time”, said Col G.S. Rawat, supervising the preparations and arrangements. This had been a tremendous job for all agencies, the civil administration and the Army for two major reasons. The 18-km-stretch of road between the Uri-Kamman bridge has not been in use since the past 58 years and more than 400-metre long stretch near the LoC was mined. These problems had to be overcome within a short period of time. This had been accomplished, said a civil administration official.

No threat to bus service in PoK, says Pak

Islamabad, April 5
Pakistan has said there was no threat to the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). “There is no security problem in PoK because it is the most peaceful area in the region with a very low crime rate,” the Daily Times quoted Foreign Office spokesman Jalil Abbas Jillani as saying.

He said all talks of threats to passengers on the bus were unwarranted as those travelling on the bus were “genuine” Kashmiris.

He also refuted assertions that Kashmiri leaders were being denied entrance by Pakistan and said the list exchanged between the two sides did not include those names.

“The Indian authorities gave Pakistan the names when the list had already been finalised,” he added. - ANI Back


PoK test drives bus

Lahore, April 5
A bus and two coasters, meant to transport passengers of the trans-Kashmir journey, reached Muzzafarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), and made test drives up to the Line of Control in the Chakothi sector.

The dry run of the vehicles coincided with the visit of 10-Corps’ Commander Lt-Gen Salahuddin Satti and 12-Division’s General Officer Commanding Maj-Gen Khalid Nawaz to the Chakothi sector, reported the daily Dawn.

The army officials also walked on what is now being described as the Peace Bridge and shook hands with the Indian soldiers who were giving finishing touches to the bridge built by them over the water channel that marks the dividing line in the area.

The 36-seater new bus has cost Rs 4.2 million to the AJK exchequer and the two coasters, having 16 and 19 seats and belonging to the forests and animal husbandry departments, were refurbished at a cost of around Rs 600,000.

The vehicles have been painted green and golden, with Muzaffarabad-Srinagar Bus Service having been prominently written on their both sides. Though the existing strength of passengers, 30, can be easily catered by the bus, the officials said the coasters were required for other needs.

“If the number of passengers rises in future, the coasters will help us accommodate the additional travellers,” AJK Transport Authority secretary Khawaja Zia Ahmed said. The authority will operate the vehicles for the trans-LoC journey.

The coasters will also be used in case of rains on the 1.3 km stretch of road between the Chakothi bus terminal and the bridge. Mr Ahmed said another dry run of the vehicles would be conducted tomorrow. — UNIBack

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