Families Of Detained Drivers Worried About Their Safety

Families Of Detained Drivers Worried About Their Safety

30 January 2014
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Majid Jahangir

Srinagar: The families of the detained drivers, who had pinned their hope on the meeting between India and Pakistan in Uri today, are feeling dejected as no decision was taken on the release of the drivers held on both sides. “We had pinned many hopes on today’s meeting but we are shocked as nothing happened,” said Mohammad Shafi, whose brother Altaf Ahmed is one of the drivers detained in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). “In the ongoing standoff between India and Pakistan, poor drivers have become the victim and no one is raising any voice. The families of the drivers are really worried over the fate of their kin,” Shafi said Shafi’s driver brother had got married almost a month back and the family is waiting for his return. A relative of another driver from north Kashmir’s Baramulla district said they had been left at God’s mercy as nobody was ensuring the return of the drivers from PoK. “Nobody tells us as to when they (drivers) will return. At times we fear for their safety,” said a driver's kin. “It has been 12 days and we are clueless about their return. Shockingly, no official or minister at the state or Central level has taken up any step to resolve the issue. The drivers have been kept hostage on both sides as if they are criminals,” he said. After the standoff which began on January 17, 27 truck drivers from Kashmir were detained in PoK and 48 PoK truck drivers were detained on this side. The drivers from PoK have been kept at Trade Facilitation Centre, Salamabad in Uri, close to the Line of Control. While the drivers from PoK are not allowed to talk to outsiders, police sources said drivers from PoK were worried. A driver, Mohammad Rafi Malik, from Muzaffarabad, was to get his daughter married during these days, which now has been postponed. Another driver, Showkat Ahmed Choudhary, who is also a resident of Muzaffarabad, lost his cousin recently and could not join the family in mourning. Deputy Commissioner, Baramulla, Ghulam Ahmed Khwaja said the issue of release of drivers was taken up with the Pakistani officials. “We hope that there will be a breakthrough on the issue. We have made adequate arrangements for the drivers from the other side at Salamabad in Uri,” the Baramulla DC said.