April 2005 News

Militants threaten elderly couple planning to travel on Kashmir bus

1 April 2005
The News International

Jammu: Two days after warning prospective passengers against travelling on the first bus on a cross-border route, reconnecting held and Azad Jammu Kashmir, suspected militants have threatened an elderly couple, scheduled to make the historic journey. Khalid Hussain, a retired government employee, said that he received a telephone call late on Thursday, telling him not to board the bus on its April 7 inaugural trip. The caller told Hussain: 'Disastrous consequences may follow in case of defiance.' Hussain said the late-night call to his mobile phone was made from Britain. On Friday, Hussain informed the police, who agreed to protect him and his family. Hussain and his wife plan to ride the bus from Srinagar to Muzaffarabad to visit relatives there. A shaken but determined Hussain, however, said that the threat would not deter him from travelling on the bus. 'I will go,' he said. 'They are seeking to keep us divided.' Hussain said that he might have drawn the militants' attention because he condemned their earlier threat in the local media. On Wednesday, four militant groups warned people against riding the cross-border buses, saying that it was 'against the interests of the freedom struggle and was an Indian ploy to harm the Kashmir's freedom movement'. Security has been sharply ratcheted up along the bus route. Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, chief minister of held Kashmir, said on Friday that police jeeps would accompany all the buses on the route to prevent attacks by militants, but only on held territory. Pakistan has approved the names of 29 people, who will travel on the bus from held Kashmir on April 7, Sayeed added. The held Kashmir government had forwarded a list of 40 people, who wanted to take the first bus.


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