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Cross-LoC trade suspended after ‘misuse by arms, drugs smugglers’

An official said the misuse was “on a very large scale”.   | Photo Credit: THE HINDU

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Thursday suspended the cross-Line of Control (LoC) trade in Jammu and Kashmir, citing “funnelling of illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency” as reasons.

The move will immediately impact around 300 traders, and over 1,200 people who are directly and indirectly associated with the trade on this side.

“The action has been taken after reports that the cross-LoC trade routes are being misused by Pakistan-based elements for funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency, etc.,” said a MHA spokesman.

He said there were reports that the misuse was “on a very large scale.”

“The trade has changed its character to mostly third party trade and products from other regions, including foreign countries, are finding their way through this route. Unscrupulous and anti-national elements are using the route as a conduit for hawala money, drugs and weapons, under the garb of this trade,” the MHA order said.

A probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the MHA said, suggested that a significant number of concerns engaged in the trade are being operated by persons closely associated with banned terrorist organisations.

It also pointed out that the Government of India after the Pulwama attack withdrew the Most Favoured Nation status to Pakistan and “inputs suggested that in order to evade the consequent higher duty, the LoC trade was likely to be misused to a much larger extent.”

In a major confidence building measure, cross-LoC trade was started in 2008 by setting up two Trade Facilitation Centres located at Uri’s Salamabad in Baramulla, and Chakkan-da-Bagh in Poonch.

The trade took place four days a week. It was based on barter system and zero duty basis.

“The move was made without any intimation to the traders. Around 300 traders, 1000 truck drivers and 200 labourers are directly involved. They will lose their livelihood immediately,” Samiullah Bhat, vice-president, Cross LoC Traders Association, told The Hindu.

Mr. Bhat said the trade has been halted at a time when we were expecting dates, dry fruits and prayer mats for the upcoming month of Ramzan.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 3:31:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/cross-loc-trade-suspended-after-misuse-by-arms-drugs-smugglers/article26879423.ece

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