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Kashmiris seek expansion of bus services

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
April 09, 2005 22:21 IST
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Kashmiris are upbeat about the re-opening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road link after 57 years. However, most think the inaugural event got too much media exposure.

But this has not prevented the locals from warmly hosting the 30 passengers who arrived in Srinagar on Thursday from Muzaffarabad.

The locals feel the beginning of the historic bus service must be expanded to include daily services from both sides that would cater to the demands of trade and commerce as well as interaction between the two peoples.

The Road to Peace

"We can send apples and other fruits across at better prices and also expect inflow of commodities at cheaper rates," said Ghulam Rasool Bhat, president of a fruit growers association in Srinagar.

Locals also feel the bus is more about emotional and human issues than a political development.

History made in Kashmir

Even senior politicians, including those in the separatist camp, agree that the re-opening of the road is a human issue that should have been addressed earlier.

"This is not the solution to the bigger issue of Kashmir," said Kashmir Mirwaiz Molvi Umar Farooq, chairman of the moderate All Parties Hurriyat Conference.

PoK visitors get rousing reception in Srinagar

He was unhappy over what he called the ruling coalition government's efforts to project the entire development as some sort of a "realisation of their political manifesto".

"Hearts have been bleeding on both sides of the unnatural divide for over 50 years. The re-opening of the road is a great development that must essentially be seen in terms of its human dimension," said Shabir Ahmed, a lecturer in a local college in Srinagar.

His views are fully endorsed by those who undertook the historic journey.

Syed Shahid Bahar is an advocate from Muzaffarabad, who came in place of his ailing father. "My father said he would like to see his motherland through my eyes. I am here to fulfill that wish of my ailing father," Bahar said.

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar