Srinagar: Relief was evident on the faces of 57 Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) residents, who were trapped in Kashmir due to the devastating floods, as they boarded the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus on Friday.
However, one elderly man was reluctant to leave.
"I tried to seek an extension to my stay here but it was not granted due to situation caused by floods," 65-year-old Mohammad Yousuf Khan, a resident of Gojra in Muzaffarabad, told a news agency while boarding the bus to his native place.
Khan had come to visit his sister, who lives in Ompora area of Budgam district, before the disaster struck Kashmir Valley.
As Ompora is located on a plateau, Khan did not have a first hand experience of the sufferings of those affected by the floods.
"I wanted to stay back and lend a helping hand in whatever way I could. People need help of all kind from everywhere to overcome a disaster of this magnitude," Khan said.
Mushtaq Ahmad, who was staying with his relatives in Jawahar Nagar area when the floods hit, was appreciative of the rescue and relief work done by local youth but also expressed his gratitude to local authorities for arranging his documents in such a short time.
"When floods water started rising in Jawahar Nagar, we fled to another relative's place at Nishat. However, my travel documents and other belongings were lost," Ahmad said.
He said the officials at the Rajbagh Police Station despite being marooned in water for several days, were helpful in getting fresh travel documents prepared for him.
"I am more impressed by the courage shown by the local youth, who not caring for personal safety, rescued hundreds of people from Jawahar Nagar and adjoining areas. This shows that humanity is still alive," he added.
Among the 57 PoK residents, who returned home today, were 29 women, 24 men and four children.
They were stranded in Kashmir as the Karawan-e-Aman - the Srinagar Muzaffarabad Bus service - was suspended for three weeks due to floods.Two persons from Kashmir, who had valid permits to visit their relatives in PoK, had also come to Salamabad Facilitation Centre in Uri but were turned back.
They were asked to report on Monday, when normal weekly bus service will resume operations.
Authorities on Wednesday announced a special bus service on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road to allow the stranded PoK residents to return home.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had on September 22 allowed residents of PoK, who were stranded in flood-hit Kashmir, to return to their homes via Poonch-Rawalakote route in Jammu region.
However, no one chose to return from that route.
The historic bus service was started on April 7, 2005 as a major confidence building measure between India and Pakistan.