In protest against killing of five jawans by Pakistani troops

Youth Congress activists blocked the Delhi-Lahore ‘Sada-e-Sarhad’ bus on the outskirts of Chheherta town, near Amritsar city, on Friday in protest against the killing of five Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops.

Though no violence was reported, about four dozen protesters blocked the bus by squatting on the road. The activists, led by Youth Congress Punjab unit president Vikram Chaudhary, waved black flags and raised slogans against Pakistan. The security personnel escorting the bus that had 14 passengers, including seven Pakistani nationals, did not allow the protesters to come close to the vehicle.

The police arrived and used some force to clear the road. The protesters were taken into custody after which the bus resumed its journey towards the Attari-Wagah joint checkpost.

While Senior Superintendent of Police for Amritsar rural Manmohan Singh told reporters that the bus was stopped for about 5 minutes, witnesses said it remained stranded for about 20 minutes.

Officials at the joint checkpost said the bus arrived almost 90 minutes behind schedule.

Informed sources said the SSP had sought an explanation from various departments, including the Chheherta and Gharinda police stations as well as the Intelligence, for their failure to foresee and prevent the incident.

Before being taken into custody, Mr. Chaudhary told reporters that from Saturday, Youth Congress activists would block the bus service till Pakistan ordered a court-martial of those involved in the killing of Indian soldiers. He also demanded that the Union government suspend all ties, including trade with Pakistan, till the latter did not initiate concrete preventive measures.

‘Sada-e-Sarhad’ was started on February 19, 1999, when Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took the bus to cross the border and meet his Pakistan counterpart, Nawaz Sharif. It is jointly operated by the Delhi Transport Corporation and the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation.

Two buses each, escorted by at least 20 heavily armed security personnel, leave Delhi every Tuesday and Friday and Lahore on Wednesdays and Fridays.

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