Cross LOC trade suspended, MHA says routes being used for inflow of weapons, narcotics, currency
Srinagar: Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has ordered suspension with immediate effect for being “misused by the Pakistan based elements for funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency etc.”
As per order by the MHA, the 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 funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency etc.”
The LoC trade was meant to facilitate exchange of goods of common use between local populations across the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir. The trade is allowed through two Trade Facilitation Centres located at Salamabad, Uri, District Baramulla and Chakkan-da-Bagh, District Poonch”.
The trade used to takes place four days a week. The Trade was based on Barter system and zero duty basis.
“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,” an official spokesman said. “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 spokesman said, adding, ““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 (militant) organizations involved in fuelling (militancy/terrorism.”
Investigations have further revealed that some individuals, who have crossed over to Pakistan, and joined militant organizations have opened trading firms in Pakistan, the spokesman said. “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After the Pulwama incident, Government of India has withdrawn the MFN status to Pakistan, the spokesman said. 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, the spokesman said.
“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.”