Jammu: A week after transportation facilities had come to a halt in certain areas of Jammu and Kashmir, the Poonch-Rawalakot cross-LoC bus service resumed on Monday (August 26). The bus services witnessed 46 stranded passengers, including 40 from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), returning home.

The weekly service was suspended on August 19 after authorities in PoK did not respond to a call from their Indian counterparts to let a bus get across the Line of Control (LoC).

Speaking to reporters, district development commissioner, Poonch, Rahul Yadav said, "The bus service resumed with 40 PoK residents and six Indian citizens returning to their homes."

The permits of two other PoK residents, who had arrived in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch a week ahead of Eid-ul-Azha to meet their relatives, were yet to expire, he said, adding that there was no fresh traveller from either side.

However, the transportation facilities were suspended on August 19, after officials said that they had sent a message to PoK authorities for bus service but did not receive any response.

The relations between India and Pakistan is under strain following Centre's move to scrap special status to Jammu and Kashmir and its bifurcation into two Union territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh — early this month.

Billed as the biggest confidence-building measure, the bus service was started on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route in Kashmir in April 2005 and the Poonch-Rawalakot route in the Jammu region in June 2006, to facilitate divided families on either side of the LoC to meet each other.

The trade, which works on the barter system, between the two parts of Kashmir started in October 2008.

However, India announced the suspension of the trade at two points — Salamabad of Baramulla in Kashmir and Chakkan-da-Bagh of Poonch in Jammu in April, following reports that it was being "misused" by elements from across the border to smuggle weapons, narcotics and fake currency.

The government has said the issue of reopening of the LoC trade would be revisited after a stricter regulatory and enforcement mechanism is worked out and put in place in consultation with various agencies.