M A I N   N E W S

LoC bus service to resume on Monday
Majid Jahangir
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, January 30
India and Pakistan have agreed to resume bus service between the two parts of Kashmir. The service had remained suspended for two weeks after the seizure of 114 kg of brown sugar that was being smuggled from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) in a truck during cross-LoC trade.

The two sides, however, failed to break the ice on the cross-LoC trade and the drivers who are held up on the two sides after the contraband seizure. Officials of the two sides met at Kaman post in Uri, 120 km from Srinagar, to end the deadlock.

“The meeting was held in a very cordial atmosphere compared to the last meeting. The two sides have decided to resume the bus service on Monday,” said Deputy Commissioner, Baramulla, Ghulam Ahmad Khwaja, who headed the talks from the Indian side.

He said that the exchange of information, which was sought by Pakistan on the investigation into the drug haul, would be done through the embassies of the two countries. In the previous meeting held on January 28, Pakistani officials had sought the forensic report of the seizure and details of the subsequent probe so that they could investigate the case on their side.

“The exchange of information will be done through diplomatic channels and not through the trade point,” Khwaja told The Tribune.

“The officials from the other side were told to come through the proper channel and they agreed on it,” Khwaja said. Due to the suspension of the bus service between two parts of Kashmir, 84 PoK residents are stuck with their relatives in J&K and 53 Indian nationals are stranded in PoK with their kin. Many have exceeded the permitted duration of their stay.

The cross-LoC standoff started on January 17 after the J&K police seized 114 kg of brown sugar that was being smuggled from PoK in a truck. The police detained the Pakistani driver and two Kashmir traders. The investigation is being done by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the J&K police.

Pakistan is seeking the release of the arrested driver. Due to the standoff, 27 truck drivers from Kashmir and 48 truck drivers from PoK are held up on the opposite side.

Khwaja said that the two sides have agreed to meet again in a few days to resolve the issues pertaining to the cross-LoC trade.

“The date for the next meeting was not finalised, but we hope it will be held in a few days," the DC said.

Besides Khwaja, Regional Passport Officer Firdous Iqbal; Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Uri, Abdul Aziz Sheikh; and Custodian of Cross-LoC Trade at Salamabad, Showkat Ahmad Rather; attended the meeting from the Indian side. The Pakistani side was represented by Director General Trans-LoC Trade Brigadier Mohammad Ismail Khan (retd). 





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