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Cross-LoC bus plies as per schedule in Poonch

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Karvan-e-Aman bus remains suspended for eighth week 

Jammu/Srinagar, Apr 22: The weekly cross-LoC bus service plied Monday as per schedule along the Poonch-Rawalakot route in Jammu and Kashmir, days after India indefinitely suspended trade at two points along the Line of Control in the state after reports of "misuse" of the business by some elements from across the border.

A total of 28 passengers, all residents of Pakistan-administered-Kashmir (PaK), availed the facility by crossing sides at Chakan-da-Bagh along the LoC in Poonch district, officials said.

While 23 PaK residents reached Poonch from across the border, five PaK residents returned home after spending time with their relatives, they said, adding neither any Indian resident returned from PaK nor anyone went there to meet their relatives, apparently in view of the prevailing situation.

The weekly bus service, popularly known as 'Paigam-e-Aman' (message of peace) plies every Monday.

The bus does not cross the LoC and the passengers exchange sides by foot at the Chakan-da-Bagh crossing point and later board the bus to reach their respective destinations.

Billed as the biggest confidence building measure, the bus service was started on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route in Kashmir in April 2005 and on the Poonch-Rawalakot route in the Jammu region on June 20, 2006, to facilitate travel between the divided families on either side of the LoC.

The cross-LoC trade, which worked on barter system, started in October 2008. However, the trade, which would take place four days a week from Tuesday, was indefinitely suspended by India last week.

Hardening its stand against Pakistan, India had on Thursday last announced the suspension of the trade at two points - Salamabad of Baramulla in Kashmir and Chakkan-da-Bagh of Poonch in Jammu, following reports that it was being "misused by elements from across the border to smuggle weapons, narcotics and fake currency”.

However, the government said the issue of reopening of the LoC trade would be revisited after a stricter regulatory and enforcement mechanism is worked out and put in place in consultation with various agencies.

Meanwhile, the weekly Karwan-e-Aman bus service operating between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad remained suspended on Monday for the eighth consecutive week.

“We have received an advisory late Sunday night to suspend the peace bus, operating between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad today,” an official said.

He said that all the passengers who were scheduled to travel in the bus were informed about the cancellation of the bus.

The Karwa-e-Aman bus service earlier was suspended due to the damaged Kaman Bridge in Uri area of north Kashmir

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