MHA suspends cross-LoC trade at Salamabad, Chakkan-da-Bagh

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 4/19/2019 10:47:38 AM

‘Pak based elements funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics, fake currency’

JAMMU, Apr 18: The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has ordered suspension of cross LoC trade at Salamabad and Chakkan-da-Bagh with an effect from April 19, 2019 in the J&K pending putting into place of a stricter regulatory regime.
“This is to ensure that only bonafide trade takes place for the benefit of the people of Jammu and Kashmir through this mechanism,” said an order issued by MHA.
The order further reads that the central government had received reports that cross-LoC trade routes in Jammu and Kashmir were being misused by some “Pakistan based elements for funneling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency etc.”
Referring to ongoing NIA investigations, the order stated that some “individuals, who have crossed over to Pakistan, and joined militant organizations have opened trading firms in Pakistan. These trading firms are under the control of militant organizations and are engaged in LoC trade.”
“After the Pulwama incident, Government of India has withdrawn the MFN status to Pakistan. Inputs have also been received that in order to evade the consequent higher duty, LoC trade is likely to be misused to a much larger extent. It has, therefore, been decided by the Government of India to suspend the LoC trade at Salamabad and Chakkan-da-Bagh in Jammu and Kashmir with immediate effect. Meanwhile, a stricter regulatory & enforcement mechanism is being worked out and will be put in place in consultation with various agencies. The issue of reopening of LoC trade will be revisited thereafter,” the order said.
The order pointed out that the LoC trade was being misused on very large scale. “It has been revealed that 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,” it added.
The MHA order read as, “MHA has issued orders to suspend the LoC trade in Jammu & Kashmir w.e.f 19-04-2019. This action has been taken as the Government of India has been receiving reports that the Cross LoC trade routes are being misused by the Pakistan based elements for funneling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency etc.”
“It may be recalled that the LoC trade is meant to facilitate exchange of goods of common use between local populations across the LoC in Jammu & Kashmir. The trade is allowed through two Trade Facilitation Centres located at Salambad, Uri, District Baramulla and Chakkan-da-Bagh, district Poonch. The trade takes place four days a week. The trade is based on barter system and zero duty basis. However, reports have been received that the LoC trade is being misused on very large scale. It has been revealed that 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 order said.
It further read, “During the ongoing investigations of certain cases by NIA, it has been brought out that a significant number of trading concerns engaged in LoC trade are being operated by persons closely associated with banned terrorist organizations involved in fuelling terrorism/separatism. Investigations have further revealed that some individuals, who have crossed over to Pakistan, and joined militant organizations, have opened trading firms in Pakistan. These trading firms are under the control of militant organizations and are engaged in LoC trade.”
The trade was part of the Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs) between India and Pakistan and was started in October 2008.
The Cross LoC routes — Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route in Kashmir valley and Poonch-Rawalakote route in Jammu division — which are being used to ferry goods between J&K and Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PAK). More than 600 traders are registered for the cross LoC trade and 21 items are on the approved export and import list from both the routes.

 

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