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Poonch-Rawalkot bus flagged off

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Last updated on: June 20, 2006 23:34 IST

Congress president Sonia Gandhi flagged off the second trans Line of Control bus amid jubilation and cheers by hundreds of locals who came out to witness the event on Tuesday.

Accompanied by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Sonia said, "India is keen to promote peace and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf must give weight to the merit of peace and harmony here."

While passing an open invitation to everyone to join the round table conference of the prime minister, the Congress president hoped, "Everyone will come forward in future."

She expressed the hope that soon trade would start between the two parts of Kashmir to promote peace and friendly relations between India and Pakistan.

Forty five passengers were on board the Poonch-Rawalkot bus on Tuesday of whom 30 were going across from this side to meet their relatives in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, while 15 were returnees who went back to their homes after having reached India to meet their kin.

All the passengers carried gifts for their relatives across the LoC and some of them were so charged with emotion that they could hardly give expression to their feelings.

The second trans Kashmir bus is also being run by the Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation, which also runs its fleet of specially made luxury buses on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route.

The Srinagar Muzaffarabad 'Karwane Aman' bus was flagged off by the prime minister on April 7, 2005. Officials in Srinagar said so far over 700 members of divided families on two both sides of the LoC have boarded the bus.

Militants in 2005 attacked the Tourist Reception Centre where the passengers of the first bus were lodged, a day earlier of the scheduled flagging off ceremony.

Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar