The Muzaffarabad-Srinagar bus service resumed on Monday almost three weeks after it was suspended following a row over the arrest of an Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) driver, accused of smuggling drugs across the Line of Control.
The driver’s arrest left 76 drivers and their trucks stranded on both sides of the LoC. 49 drivers of Azad Kashmir waited in Indian-administered Kashmir while 27 drivers were stuck at Chakothi Trade Facilitation Centre, some 56 kilometres from Muzzafarabad.
“We resumed the bus service,” Director General Travel and Trade Authority Brigadier (retired ) Muhammad Ismail told The Express Tribune, saying 36 passengers travelled from AJK to Indian-held Kashmir. “Some 10 of these passengers who were stranded belong to Azad Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.
An estimated two dozen local transporters held a demonstration in Chinari, near the Chakothi terminal, threatening to block the bus service unless authorities freed the arrested driver.
The Travel and Trade Authority (Tata) refused to accept the 48 drivers and demanded the release of the arrested driver. The standoff continues as the Tata authorities termed the arrest of the driver against the Cross LoC travel and trade Standard Operation Procedure which guides travel and trade across the divided parts of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th, 2014.
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