Current skirmishes between the Indian and the Pakistani troops, in which three soldiers have died in Uri and Poonch sectors, have hit trade and travel across the LoC in Jammu division, even as the activity is still unaffected in Kashmir valley.
Custodian of the cross-LoC trade at Trade Facilitation Centre, Chakan-Da-Bagh, Poonch, in Jammu division, Abdul Hamid, said trade and travel had been suspended in the wake of the January 8 firing in which two soldiers of 13 Rajputana Rifles were killed. “I spoke to Director General of Trade in PoK Government Ismail Khan through hotline. He told me that the entire cross-LoC trade and travel would remain suspended with immediate effect until the skirmishes subsided,” Mr. Hamid told The Hindu.
While cross-LoC travel had commenced between two parts of Jammu and Kashmir, one controlled by Pakistan and another by India, in April 2005, cross-LoC trade on barter basis had begun in October 2008.
In Kashmir valley, the Pakistani and the Indian authorities have set up their facilitation centres at Chakoti and Salamabad respectively, on either side of the LoC in Uri. A relatively smaller facility has been in place at Teetwal in Tangdhar area. It, however, remains suspended for six months due to heavy snow and inclement weather on Sadhna Pass, which connects the Valley to Tanghdar.
Like Uri, the TFC at Chakan-Da-Bagh in Poonch remains open for the cross-LoC bus on Monday and for trade for Tuesday to Friday. Mr. Hamid said it was for the first time that such a terse message had come from the hotline across the LoC in Poonch. He said that the traders from Jammu, Rajouri and Poonch had withdrawn almost a hundred of their vehicles on Thursday and Friday. “There are still 20 vehicles parked here outside the TFC,” he said.
Trade Facilitation Officer of the Central Customs Department Parmjit Singh said the entire business activity had come to a standstill immediately after the flare-up in the Krishna Ghati sector on January 8.