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24 journalists in first bus to Lahore

July 10, 2003 20:13 IST

There will be 24 journalists in the 34-seater bus that will leave for Lahore from Delhi on Friday.

"Two seats are still vacant on the first day," Sukhdev Anand, in-charge of the twice-weekly Sada-e-Sarhad (Call of the Frontier), told on Thursday evening.

"We have sold tickets for all the trips this month. But still there are some vacant seats. We hope to fill them soon. There is a huge rush at the ticket counter," he said.

The bus will leave the Delhi Gate terminal at 0600 IST and reach Lahore in about 12 hours.

Officials of the Delhi Transport Corporation, which is running the service, said for the first trip preference was given to journalists.

They also expect many Pakistani journalists in the first bus that will reach Delhi from Lahore on Friday evening.

The service is resuming after almost 18 months as part of the confidence building measures started by the two countries. India had snapped all travel links with Pakistan after the attack on Parliament on December 13, 2001.

A boon for many middle-class people in both India and Pakistan, the bus service was stopped after nearly three years of successful run.

The resumption has again raised hopes among people who have their relatives on the other side.

An official of the high commission told "We have been flooded with visa applications after the announcement of the resumption of the bus service."

"So far we have issued 50 visas for the bus journey."

A ticket to Lahore costs Rs 830, while from the other side it is Rs 900. This includes breakfast, lunch and tea.

Mohammed Abdullah of Srinagar was the first person to get a ticket when the DTC counter opened on Tuesday morning.

Abdullah is visiting Pakistan to meet his sister in Rawalpindi after eight years.

DTC has spent about Rs 900,000 towards renovation of the bus, which has a 25-inch colour television and a DVD player.

Songs and movies that will be shown onboard have been selected keeping in mind the taste of the people likely to travel in it.

Films like Nikaah, Pakeezah, Sholay, Mughal-e-Azam and Barsaat are among those selected.

Passengers can also use mobile phones in the bus.

Each passenger will be allowed to carry a maximum of 30 kg of baggage.

The bus will pass through Delhi, Haryana and Punjab and these states will arrange for the security of the passengers.

Ehtasham Khan in New Delhi