After police book driver from PoK for carrying brown sugar worth Rs. 114 crore

Cross-LoC trade in Jammu and Kashmir has been suspended after the police booked a driver from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir for carrying a sizeable quantity of brown sugar, a narcotic substance, and seized his truck seized at the Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC) Uri, even as PoK authorities allegedly held hostage 27 Kashmiri drivers and seized their vehicles.

On Friday, the customs authorities seized 114 packets of brown sugar, each weighing 1 kg, at TFC Salamabad (Uri), from a truck packed with a registered load of almonds. The drug is worth Rs. 114 crore in the international underground market. The driver, Mohammad Shafi Awan of Sirad Muzaffarabad, was taken into custody and booked under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

When the remaining 48 trucks returned on Friday, the PoK authorities refused to accept them at Aman Setu. The TFC Chakothi authorities reportedly did not permit the caravan of 27 Kashmiris to return to the Valley, making it clear that they could move only after Mr. Awan is handed over to them along with the truck and the contraband.

Deputy Commissioner of Baramulla Ghulam Ahmad Khwaja and Custodian of Cross-LoC Trade at Salamabad, Showkat Ahmad Rather told The Hindu that talks with the PoK authorities on Friday and Saturday had “reached a dead end.”

“We failed to explain that a person booked under the NDPS Act could be released only by a judicial court,” Mr. Rather said. On Saturday, we had an over two-hour-long meeting with the PoK Director General of [cross-LoC] Trade and Travel, Brigadier (retd.) Ismail Khan, and his team of officials. They did not budge from their stand that the cross-LoC trade could restore only after the detained driver, along with the seized truck and the drug, was returned to the PoK authorities for the trial. We clarified to them that the executive had no mandate in such matters,” Mr. Khwaja said.