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PoK Suspends LoC Bus Service

Published: 20th January 2014 10:21 PM  |   Last Updated: 20th January 2014 10:21 PM   |  A+A-

By PTI

The stand-off between India and Pakistan over the truckers issue entered the fourth day Monday with Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) authorities suspending cross-LoC bus service demanding release of a Pakistani driver arrested by Indian authorities on charges of smuggling drugs worth Rs 100 cr.

PoK's Director General of Trade, a retired army officer, during a meeting with J and K government officials for breaking the deadlock over the arrest of the driver, made a surprise claim that the driver enjoyed diplomatic immunity and should be released immediately.

Tension mounted at the Kaman post area in North Kashmir when police on Friday detained a truck carrying 114 packets of brown sugar, valued at Rs 100 crore in international market and arrested the driver along with two more people from Bandipore who were to receive the consignment.

In a tit-for-tat action, authorities in PoK detained 27 Indian truck drivers and demanded release of their driver.

The deadlock intensified when authorities in Kashmir were informed by the PoK about suspension of bus service on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road.

"We were informed by PoK authorities that Karavan-e-Aman (Peace Caravan) bus service shall remain suspended today. No reasons were assigned," Regional Passport Officer Firdous Iqbal told PTI.

While one driver has been arrested, 48 other drivers from PoK are also stranded at Salamabad Trade Facilitation Centre since the stand-off began last week.

Officials from the External Affairs and Home ministries are coordinating efforts with the state government for ending the impasse and ensuring safe return of Indian drivers -- 12 of whom were from Baramulla and Uri, eight from Srinagar and others from Shopian, Kulgam and South Kashmir.

Divisional Commissioner (Kashmir) Shailendra Kumar told reporters here that the PoK authorities "surprisingly conveyed that under the (Cross-LoC) pact, these people have diplomatic immunity. We asked for the documents which provide diplomatic immunity even to drivers." 

Kumar said PoK authorities were asking for release of the driver and return of the seized narcotics.



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