March 2005 News

Patil, Vohra Mull Impact Of Bus On J-K

28 March 2005
The Indian Express

Jammu: With the launch of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service just a week away, the impact of the development on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir was reviewed at a meeting between Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Centre's special representative N.N. Vohra here today. The 45-minute meeting covered all aspects of the situation in the state, official sources said, adding that a more comprehensive meeting would be held on the subject by next week. The issues mainly included the developments related to the start of the bus service and assessment of the post-launch scenario, sources said. An assessment was made about the impact the running of the service will have on the general situation of the state, they said. The meeting also reviewed issues related to development and elections in the context of Municipal polls held recently and panchayat elections expected shortly. The threats issued by terrorists to disallow the electoral process to take roots were also assessed. Meanwhile, Army Chief Gen J.J. Singh said passengers coming from Pakistan by the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus would be given escorts to visit their family members and would have their photographs and fingerprints taken to ensure that only those who enter go back to their country. 'The Jammu and Kashmir government and the state police is initially giving permission to members of divided families who have relatives on this side. They will be given some sort of escort to go to their families, meet them, spend time and go back,' Singh told reporters here on the sidelines of a function where he was felicitated by the war wounded foundation. 'The responsibility (to ensure that the visitors go back) becomes that of the family where they are going,' he added. The historic bus service between the capitals of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is scheduled to start on April 7. Singh said the Army would also have its own 'checks and balances' to ensure that passengers are not replaced by other persons on the return trip. 'There will be checks and balances from the Army's side (such as) to have their photographs and thumb impressions taken to ensure that the person who came is the same who is going back,' Singh said.


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