Cross-LoC travel on the Poonch-Rawalakot road was suspended on Monday as Pakistan did not open the gates on its side virtually refusing entry to the bus which was carrying Pak citizens only. There were 14 people on board the Rawalakot bound bus who were returning home across the border after the expiry of nearly a month-long stay on the Indian side, said Custodian Cross LoC Trade, Tanveer Ahmed. These guests from PoK will not stay on the Indian side for another week when next bus leaves for Rawalakot on Monday, he added.
Significantly suspension of cross-LoC travel through Chakkan Da Bagh came amidst unprovoked mortar shelling from Pakistan side killing a Territorial Army jawan and his wife at Khari Karamara on Saturday morning. There had been mortar shelling in the area on Sunday night as well which caused damage to the administrative block of the Trade Facilitation Centre and police barracks at Chakkan Da Bagh.
However, as guests from PoK reached Chakkan Da Bagh on Monday morning for their return journey to Rawalakot, the Indian officials opened the gates on its side to allow their bus cross the LoC. The Pakistani officials did not open the gates on their side, making their Indian counterpart hold the bus.
“We waited for Pakistan side to respond till 1.30 pm and finally made the bus return to Poonch town,” a senior official said, adding that it had been the second time that Pakistani shells had fallen at Trade Facilitation Centre since March this year. Earlier on March 12-13 last also, administrative block at the TFC had suffered extensive damage in Pakistani shelling.
The Poonch-Rawalakot bus service through Chakkan Da Bagh had started in 2006 to enable divided families living on both sides of the LoC to meet each other. Trade on that route followed two years later in 2008. At present, while cross-LoC travel takes places on every Monday, trade is allowed from Tuesday to Friday every week.