Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 18
The Central government on Thursday issued orders to suspend trade across Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir from Friday following reports that routes are being misused by Pakistan-based elements to send illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency.
The trade through two facilitation centres at Salambad, Uri, and Chhakkan-da-Bagh, Poonch, that takes place on four days a week and based on barter system and zero-duty basis meant to facilitate exchange of goods of common use between local population across the LoC in the state.
The Home Ministry said reports were received that the LoC trade is being misused on very large scale. It has been found trade changed its character to mostly third party trade and products from other regions, including foreign countries, 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,” an official release said.
During the ongoing investigations of certain cases by NIA, it came to light that a significant number of trading concerns engaged in LoC trade are being operated by persons closely associated with banned terrorist organisations involved in fuelling terrorism/separatism.
Investigations also revealed that some individuals, who have crossed over to Pakistan, and joined militant organisations opened trading firms in Pakistan, which are under the control of militant organisations and are engaged in LoC trade.
After the Pulwama incident, the Government of India withdrew 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 greater extent.
While announcing suspension from tomorrow, the government said a stricter regulatory and enforcement mechanism is being worked out and will be put in place in consultation with various agencies, and revisit the issue of reopening of LoC trade thereafter.