Srinagar: With the seizure of around 129 kg of narcotics in the past 13 months from Pakistani trucks delivering consignments to J&K as a part of the cross-Line of Control (LoC) trade, the Centre has asserted that action would be taken against those involved in smuggling, but the trade initiated as a Confidence Building Measure (CBM) by the neighbours would not be compromised.
Cross-LoC trade between J&K and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) was started in October, 2008, as a Kashmir-specific CBM by the countries. Only 21 tradeable items, including fresh vegetables, fruits, dry fruits and furniture made in the region, could be traded four days a week.
About 800 traders from the state and 400 from PaK are involved in cross-LoC trade, which is now mired in the smuggling of drugs.
The J&K police detained two Pak truck drivers for carrying the contraband items. Local traders to whom the consignments were being delivered were also held.
Cross-LoC trade remained suspended for a period after both the incidents as PaK authorities refused to let J&K drivers return following the arrest of the PaK driver. They were allowed to return only after the intervention of the Ministry of External AffairsMinistry.
“After the suspension of trade, cross LoC meetings were held at Zero Point between J&K and PaK authorities. Different issues related to trade were discussed and it was stressed from our side that the trade should not be made hostage to the events of smuggling,” Union Minister of State for Commerce & Industry Nirmala Sitharaman informed the Lok Sabha on Friday.
She said, “Our side stressed that elements involved in such acts (narcotics smuggling) should be dealt with under the law of the land.”
About 18,23,605.43 quintals of tradeable items worth Rs 1,411 crore have been exported to Pakistan from J&K from October 2008 to February 2015. Similarly, 12,49,445.56 quintals of items worth Rs 2,269 crore (Pakistan currency) has been imported from PaK during the period.
Salamabad Trade Facilitation Officer and SDM Uri Showkat Ahmad said the installation of full body scanners as is being demanded by traders would be put in place in a year. “A team of officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs visited Uri recently to conduct a survey before the installation of Full Body Scanner,” he said.
He said for installing it, a lot of infrastructure has to be developed. “Full Body scanner causes radiation. It will only be installed when all measures are taken to ensure reduction of health hazards in the place where it is installed.”
On January 17, 2014, 114 kg of brown sugar worth over Rs 100 crore was recovered from a Pak truck at the Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC), Salamabad in Uri of North Kashmir during the routine inspection. The truck was supposed to ferry a consignment of almonds to a Kashmiri trader.