While claiming that the Rs. 10 crore worth cocaine consignment, seized from a truck across the LoC in Baramulla district, had been smuggled in for Hizbul Mujahideen, the Jammu and Kashmir Police have arrested an alleged operative of the militant outfit from the capital city on Friday.
The North Kashmir Deputy Inspector General of Police J.P. Singh confirmed the Baramulla Police operation and told The Hindu that one Shehzad was picked up from Fruit Mandi area of Srinagar. “Driver of the seized truck Abdul Ahad of Mawar, Handwara, revealed during sustained questioning that the cocaine consignment was for Hizbul Mujahideen’s Shehzad. We got him to Srinagar to call Shehzad to Parimpora. As soon as Shehzad reached the given spot, we took him into custody”, DIG Singh said.
Mr. Singh claimed that Shehzad was an “overground militant operative closely linked to Hizbul Mujahideen’s top brass in Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir”. “He admitted to being the importer of the cocaine consignment but maintained during the preliminary questioning that the contraband was supposed to be delivered to another operative whose particulars would be communicated by the organisation from Pakistan”, Mr. Singh said.
Case FIR number 47 under section 6 of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act has been registered at Police Station Sheri in Baramulla district. Shehzad’s antecedents and background could not be verified immediately from independent sources.
Nine packets of cocaine, each weighing one kilo and valued at Rs. 10 crore in international drug markets, had been seized from a cross-LoC trade truck earlier on Friday. Entire fleet of the trucks that had gone across the LoC to the Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir’s Trade Facilitation Centre at Chakoti to deliver goods on Thursday, was intercepted and thoroughly checked at a barricade on Baramulla-Uri Road on Friday.
The DIG said police had received information about the possibility of smuggling of drugs and arms through three particular trucks. He said that the contraband was seized from a truck bearing registration number JK02F-0127. It had been concealed in a tyre in the tool box of the vehicle that had carried a load of bananas from Srinagar to Chakoti.
The barter trade of over two dozen listed items operates for four days a week through Uri in Baramulla district of Kashmir valley and Chakan-Da-Bagh in Poonch district of Jammu. As a significant feature of the confidence building measures between India and Pakistan, the cross-LoC trade has been in operation since October 21, 2008. Cross-LoC travel had been resumed after 57 years in April 2005.
While as the PoK government has set up the TFC at Chakoti for delivery of the goods imported from Srinagar, the J&K government has a similar facility at Salambad, short of the Aman Sethu bridge, the zero-line on LoC in Uri. Goods imported from Muzaffarabad are delivered there for trans-shipment to Srinagar and Baramulla.
Even as some prohibited items, including rounds of ammunition and Pakistani SIM cards have been recovered from some vehicles and passengers in Jammu, it is for the first time in the last five years of the cross-LoC trade that a sizable quantity of cocaine has been allegedly smuggled in and seized.