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PoK visitors get rousing reception in Srinagar

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
Last updated on: April 08, 2005 00:16 IST
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It was an emotional reunion for 30 passengers from Muzaffarabad as two buses rolled into the main entrance of the Centaur Lake View Hotel in Srinagar on Thursday.

As the police band played a welcome tune, the visitors from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir rushed into the waiting arms of relatives on this side of the border.

'Bus is a good CBM for Kashmiris' | The Road to Peace

Most of them could not control emotions were seen crying.

"I have no words. I just don't believe after 57 years I am back to my roots," said Zamrodda Sharif, who crossed the Kaman bridge on a wheel chair.

As tears rolled down, she hugged her relatives.

PM flags off Indo-Pak bus

"I was just 16 when I went to Muzaffarabad after my marriage," she said.

"I couldn't sleep the whole night. Only cowards can hand down threats, it's the brave who dare them," said Syed Shahid Bahar, an advocate from Muzaffarabad, talking about militant threats to the bus service.

"We have been waiting for this historic day," Bahar said as he hugged his cousin.

The buses from Muzaffarabad reached Srinagar at around 2040 hours.

The blurring of the LoC

Girls from different regions of Jammu and Kashmir, including Kargil, Leh, Dogri, Balti, Darti and Sheena, received the passengers with flowers at the gate of the heavily-guarded Sher-e-Kashmir Conference Centre.

The guests were offered Kashmiri kahwa (a local brew).

The visitors later feasted on a cultural programme, which included a folk dance to the tune of Kashmiri song 'Bumbro Bumbro', made famous in the Bollywood film Mission Kashmir.

History made in Kashmir

This was followed by dinner hosted by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed.

The visitors' stay has been arranged by the state government in the International Conference Centre on the banks of Dal lake.

An exhibition of local costumes was also arranged for visitors.

The visitors floated flowers on Dal Lake as a mark of respect to Hazratbal shrine situated on its banks.

The rocky road to Muzaffarabad

Earlier, the passengers from across the border were accorded a warm welcome at Salamabad, where they reached at around 1530 IST.

The thirty passengers, including five women, were welcomed by the local population led by Jammu and Kashmir minister Taj Mohiuddin.

The bus to nowhere

Echoing sentiments of the people of the state, the visitors said they saw a ray of hope in Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service which might lead to permanent solution of the Kashmir issue.

"It is a good thing and will be beneficial in enhancing people-to-people interaction that will lead to better understanding and probably solution of Kashmir issue," Shahid Ahmad, the first passenger to disembark here from the Srinagar-bound bus told PTI.

Goodbye, Kashmir!

A special reception was organised for the passengers in the presence of People's Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti.

The army set up a video conferencing facility to air the historic moment, enabling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to witness the historic event sitting in Srinagar.

Also Read:
3 Indian passengers discontinue journey
India bus reaches Salamabad

(With inputs from agencies)

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar