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The private bus, which came under terrorists' gunfire in Kashmir, had changed hands six months ago, but the ownership remained with the original owner due to payment issues, said officials.
The registration number of the bus, GJ-09-Z-9976, suggested that it belonged to Sabarkantha district in Gujarat. It was subsequently revealed that the owner of the bus, Sanjay Patel, had sold it to Valsad-based Jawahar Desai, the owner of 'Om Travels', a travel agency.
Patel runs another travel agency, 'Umiya Travels', in Idar town of Sabarkantha district.
"Since the bus was first registered in Sabarkantha, it carries 'GJ-09' on the number plate. However, we found out that it was sold to a Valsad-based tour operator six months back," said Sabarkantha Collector P Swaroop.
According to Patel, the ownership of the bus is still with him as Desai is yet to make the full payment for it.
"Though I sold the bus to Desai six months back, I am still the owner on paper as the transfer of ownership is yet to take place due to payment issues," he said.
According to him, as Desai had planned an Amarnath tour from July 2 to July 23, he had procured the permit for it from the Himmatnagar transport office as he was still the official owner of the vehicle, while Desai had signed as the tour organiser.
The passengers' list, which was approved by the authorities concerned, showed Desai and his son Harsh as two of the 54 passengers in the bus. While Desai (55) escaped the terror attack unhurt, Harsh (24) received multiple injuries.
According to Valsad Collector C R Kharsan, four buses, including the one which came under the terrorists' gunfire, had left Valsad for Amarnath earlier in the month.
"We have learnt that the ownership of the bus is still with a person based in Sabarkantha due to some payment issues. Four buses had left for Amarnath from Valsad this year. As per the information we have, the other three buses and the passengers are safe," said Kharsan.
Seven Amarnath pilgrims, including six women, were killed and 19 injured when the bus came under terrorists' gunfire in south Kashmir's Anantnag district last night.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)