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Indo-Pak bus: 24 tickets sold

Source: PTI
Last updated on: April 06, 2005 21:30 IST
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With less than 24 hours for the inaugural Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus to roll out, only 24 passengers have so far turned up at the high-security Tourist Reception Centre in Srinagar to make the journey across the Line of Control. 

"Only 24 tickets have been sold so far. We are hopeful that the others will also turn up," an official of the State Road Transport Corporation, which is running the service, said.

Three prospective passengers have opted out citing technical reasons, official sources said.

Abdul Haq Chesti and his mother, Hajira Begum, have decided not to undertake the journey, as Hajira is bed-ridden. Another person is scheduled to undergo a surgery on April 8, the sources added. Two other persons have not reported to the authorities so far, the sources said.

The passengers have been lodged at the TRC since Sunday, following threats by four militant outfits to target the bus.

Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium, from where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will flag off the bus, has been put off limits and all the routes leading to it have been sealed.

The service is touted as the biggest confidence-building measure between India and Pakistan.

The service is also aimed at reuniting families of the state divided by the Line of Control after 57 years.

"I am sure nothing is going to happen during the journey. Let us see what happens later," said 62-year-old Khalid Hussain, one of the passengers bound for Muzaffarabad.

Hussain, who is travelling to Mirpur to meet his cousin.

A caller from London threatened him over his mobile phone.

Earlier, his name figured in the list of people threatened by four militant groups through a statement issued to the media.

"Threats are common in Jammu and Kashmir. We have to take these in our strides," he said.

Hussain's wife Nasreen, who is undertaking the journey along with him, too is unperturbed. "I am not worried about the threats," she said.

Hussain says his relatives in Mirpur have also heard about the threat. "But they have said we should not cancel the visit," he said.

"Threat or no threat, we have to carry on with our lives," said another Muzaffarabad-bound passenger who requested not to be identified.

"Someone is going to meet his relative. This is a human issue. Why should anybody object to it," he said.

Ask them why they don't go later rather than take the risk of travelling by the inaugural bus and one passenger says, "An opportunity has come for us to meet our relatives. Who knows whether this service will continue or not?"

All the passengers, brought from various parts of the state, have been housed in a heavily guarded tourist reception centre.

The state government has assured foolproof security for the bus service and the travellers.

"We are taking all precautionary measures to ensure that nothing untoward happens on Thursday," J & K Deputy Chief Minister Mangat Ram Sharma said.

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