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Over 400 trucks ferry apples in J&K despite attacks

apple trade continued normally as over 400 fruit-laden trucks stationed in the Valley moved out in the past 24 hours./ File photo

apple trade continued normally as over 400 fruit-laden trucks stationed in the Valley moved out in the past 24 hours./ File photo  

Three non-local people associated with the trade were killed this week

Around 400 trucks ferried apples out of Jammu and Kashmir in the past 24 hours, in spite of gunmen killing three non-locals associated with the fruit trade in south Kashmir since Monday. The Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Hizbul Mujahideen were behind the attacks, said Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbagh Singh.

An official said the killing of a non-local truck driver, a labourer and an apple trader had instilled fear in orchard owners in south Kashmir’s Shopian area. However, apple trade continued normally as over 400 fruit-laden trucks stationed in the Valley moved out in the past 24 hours.

Horticulture department officials pointed out that Shopian, where these attacks were reported, already saw the lowest apple export this year: just 2,381 boxes ferried in just one truck till October 10, under the government-sponsored market intervention scheme (MIS). “Shopian is the last district in the Valley to pick apples. The area still has over 90% of the produce on trees,” an official said.

Shopian became a springboard of militancy in 2017-18 and witnessed maximum number of encounters in south Kashmir, leaving many militant ‘commanders’ dead.

Mr. Singh said the attackers have been identified. “The LeT and HM were behind it.

Pakistan-sponsored terrorists were involved in the killing of the three civilians. Such acts are very barbaric and inhumane. Extra security measures are put in place at loading points. All field commanders of the police, Army and CAPF have been directed to take extra security measures in consultation with local fruit traders,” said the DGP.

He said hundreds of fruit trucks were being loaded and transported every day. “The local people have condemned such barbaric acts and are cooperating with the police. The situation throughout Jammu and Kashmir is improving although Pakistan is trying to infiltrate more terrorists to create trouble and disturb peace in the valley,” he added.

Governor Satya Pal Malik hinted that restoration of mobiles resulted in the spree of attacks and killing this week. “The killings took place immediately after the mobile phones were restored. Three were killed this week. The security forces, however, also managed to kill three militants. We have made it clear that lives of Kashmiris are more important than mobile phones,” said Mr. Malik.

Meanwhile, Sanjeev Kumar, a resident of Punjab’s Fazilka area, remained critical in Srinagar’s Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital.

“He remains in the Intensive Care Unit. His condition is critical,” said a doctor at the hospital.

Around 18 non-local labourers were rounded by unknown gunmen on Wednesday in Shopian’s Treng area. The gunmen killed one trader, Charanjeet Singh from Punjab, and beat up several others. “The gunmen, for unknown reasons, spared the lives of others,” a police official said.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 2:42:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/over-400-trucks-ferry-apples-despite-attacks/article29727737.ece

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