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Bus Service Across Kashmir Line of Control Suspended

FILE - An Indian bus carrying passengers who arrived from the Pakistani side of Kashmir leaves the border at Chakka Da Bagh in Poonch district, 250 kilometers (156 miles) northwest of Jammu, India.

Bus service across the disputed boundary between Indian and Pakistani-administered Kashmir has been suspended following a recent incident of alleged drug trafficking.

The bus service across the disputed Line of Control started in April 2005. Named “Caravan of Peace,” it was part of confidence-building measures designed to lead to a resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

The suspension of this weekly service Monday is the latest in the trade standoff that started Friday.

Indian authorities arrested a truck driver from Pakistani-administered Kashmir over charges of drug trafficking. He was part of a fleet of 28 trucks carrying merchandise across the disputed boundary.

In retaliation, Pakistani authorities detained 50 trucks that had arrived from the Indian side earlier that day.

Fifty-seven passengers are stuck on both sides of the disputed boundary due to the suspension. Ajaz Ahmed Mir of the Jammu and Kashmir Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry complains that traders are also losing big.

“Three hundred trucks that were supposed to come to Azad Kashmir this week are stuck on the Indian side. The traders are losing millions of rupees. We request both Indian and Pakistani governments to solve this problem quickly,” he said.

A similar incident one year ago led to the suspension of this trade route for six weeks.

The relationship between India and Pakistan has sunk to new lows since August. At that time, India objected to a meeting between the Pakistani envoy in New Delhi and separatist leaders from Indian Kashmir. Until then, such meetings had been routine.