The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Driver duo eager for drive of union

Srinagar, April 5 (PTI): Driving buses has been a routine for them for nearly three decades. But when Ghulam Mohammad Wani and Ghulam Nabi Wani sit at the wheels on Thursday, it will be an altogether different experience.

The drivers of the Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation will steer two buses carrying passengers on their way to Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), becoming part of the process to reunite families divided by the Line of Control.

'I have been driving buses for the last 26 years on various routes, including inter-state ones. But the experience of driving a bus on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route will definitely be exceptional for me. I am excited about it,' says 47-year-old Mohammad.

'The experience will particularly be special considering that I will be ferrying people who are going to meet their separated relatives.'

Nabi says: 'I have got a unique opportunity. I am going to drive a bus that will help unite hearts from across the LoC that have remained separated for decades.'

The Wanis are among the four drivers of the state transport corporation who will drive the buses on the special route.

Four conductors will accompany them and also play guide, briefing the visitors about various spots along the route.

The drivers feel the service should be more frequent than twice a month. 'This should be a daily service considering the desire of the people of Kashmir on both sides to visit the other side to meet their relatives and friends,' says Nabi.

On the latest militant threat to target the bus, the drivers say: 'Life and death are in the hands of God. We are only doing our job.' They, however, admit that their family members are worried.

The Wanis would have felt happier if they were allowed to drive across the LoC. According to the agreement between the two countries, the passengers will disembark at Kaman Bridge, the last point on this side of the LoC, and walk across to take another bus to Muzaffarabad.

Similarly, Srinagar-bound passengers from across the border will board these buses from Kaman Bridge.

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