Women special buses go missing in Kashmir capital

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The special bus service for women, launched by the Jammu and Kashmir Road Transport Corporation (JKRTC) four years ago, to ferry women passengers from Lal Chowk to different parts of the city has disappeared from the roads.

The bus service was started in the summer of 2016 by the then chief minister Mehbooba Mufti. The services included five special buses in the city exclusive for women passengers. 

However, the services have now gone missing as none of the busses are seen on the roads anymore.

When the women’s special buses were launched, they got a widespread positive response in Srinagar. Women, mostly college girls, would board these buses for secure travel. 

Many girl students preferred it over a regular bus because of a sense of comfort. “The crowd in the bus was only female which did feel comforting, considering most forms of harassment in public transport usually comes from the other gender,” said Marina Nasreen, a twenty-three-year-old Law student from the University of Kashmir.

Like many other women, Nasreen too felt excited when the bus service started in Kashmir. The bus was spacious and very well-ventilated than the regular buses, she said. “It was mostly on time and thus reliable.”

The service was halted in March last year when the first case of COVID-19 appeared in Kashmir and the administration imposed restrictions on all public transport. The lockdown continued for almost five months till the markets and public transport was allowed to resume in August.

The women’s special buses, however, failed to make a reappearance. An official from the JKSRTC said the service was stopped due to COVID19 restrictions. He did not elaborate on when the service will be resumed. 

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