March 2005 News

Kashmiris angry at threats by militants against bus journey

31 March 2005
The Daily Times

Srinagar: Kashmiris due to ride the first bus between the Indian and Pakistani zones of the divided region hit out angrily on Thursday at militants who issued death threats, amid concerns over the leaking of the passenger list.Four militants groups said in a joint statement on Wednesday that those planning to ride the bus would face the consequences of being branded 'traitors' by anti-Indian militants.'We humbly request persons selected to travel on the first and second bus to Muzaffarabad not to enter the coffin but if they do, they will find their names in the list of traitors,' they said.The statement, issued by the al-Nasireen, Save Kashmir Movement, Farzandan-e-Millat and al-Arifeen groups, was accompanied by the list of 40 people, complete with residential addresses, selected by India to travel on the maiden service.'We feel pained at what has happened. We want to cross over to see our near ones not to do any politics,' said Ghulam Fatima, 55, whose name appears on the Indian list along with that of her husband Muhammad Abdullah.'No power on earth can stop me from meeting my daughter,' a fuming Fatima told AFP.'I appeal to the mujahideen to withdraw their threat as my parents are desperate to meet their daughter,' said their second daughter, Nazira Bano, 35.Bano said her parents had many times been denied visas to visit Pakistan by New Delhi but now that they had a chance to visit Muzaffarabad 'this threat has come up'. Another passenger, requesting anonymity, said those riding the bus were 'innocent civilians who have nothing to do with politics'.'If militants had to ban this service they should have told us before we applied for the permits,' he said. The bus is scheduled to operate from April 7 between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad. The statement by militant groups said the bus service would not be in the interests of the ongoing 'jihad' against Indian rule in Kashmir.'It is a conspiracy to strengthen the Indian occupation,' it said.Police said security for the proposed fortnightly bus service would be reviewed and that investigations were under way into how the passenger list fell into the hands of the militants.The leader of Kashmir's main opposition National Conference, Omar Abdullah, expressed concern at the leak.


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